Digital Skills: Unlocking the Information Society by Jan A.G.M. van Dijk

Digital Skills: Unlocking the Information SocietyDigital Skills: Unlocking the Information Society by Jan A. G. M. van Dijk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got this book because I believed it would support research I am working on this semester about the digital divide and libraries. It certainly accomplished this and so much more. As someone who has spent a fair number of years helping people of all ages and backgrounds to gain digital skills in order to improve their lives, this book provided some really interesting context for my work. While I always had my suspicions and ideas on how people learned and why they learned, I had never done much research to support these theories rolling around in my head. The empirical research done in this field was fascinating to read. The framework suggested by these authors to more effectively tackle the issue of the second level digital divide that we are now facing (skills deficits contributing to the marginalization of certain groups) makes sense to me and has me considering fundamental shifts in how I tackle this issue in my own work moving forward.

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Library 2.013 Conference

This past Friday and Saturday was the annual Library 2.013 Virtual Conference ( and I was lucky enough to attend sessions on both days. This marked the third year I have participated in this conference, and once again I was impressed.

The idea of library leaders from all over the world sharing sessions via an online platform for several days straight may sound a bit wonky, but in fact, it is a wonderful way for library staff from all over the globe to have access to some of the biggest name library leaders without having to shell out mega bucks to travel and attend a live conference. With the variety of sessions available at times around the clock, librarians had the opportunity to attend a live session no matter what their schedules were like, if they wished. Sessions were also recorded.

With my new position I was most interested in the sessions which dealt with academic libraries supporting STEM. On Friday I attended “Tour” of Liaison Services and Challenges for STEM Outreach by Lea Leininger, Health Sciences Librarian at University University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a few of her colleagues. It was a terrific session. I had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers via the chat window and walked away with ideas that I could immediately implement in my job.

I attended Michael Stephens (and even re-arranged my Saturday to get back home and ready before the session started) the next day. His keynote, Learning Everywhere: Transformative Power of Hyperlinked Libraries, was very inspiring and I’m glad I attended live. The chat was active and fun to participate in.

Those were my two favorite sessions. I attended a couple of others that had some technical difficulties. At one session I am not sure the presenter understood how to use her microphone. The other session that wasn’t so much fun included a series of videos which were difficult to access via the iPad I was viewing the presentation on. I kept having to log back into the session and I finally just gave up.

Was the virtual experience perfect? Of course not. Did I gain useful information that I can apply to my work as a result of attending these session — absolutely. I hope this conference continues. This year badges were awarded to participants who watched the keynotes. I would love it if they offered this opportunity for all sessions in the future, not just the keynotes.

The Library Marketing Toolkit by Ned Potter

Being tasked with a job as important as marketing the library you love and care for can be an intimidating and somewhat daunting proposition. That word—marketing—means so many different things to different people. In Ned Potter’s book The Library Marketing Toolkit, the complex process is divided up into distinct and manageable interdependent projects. I took my time reading this book, taking notes along the way, investigating the supplemental web material provided, and sharing certain passages or chapters with my coworkers to gauge reactions to the book’s ideas. By the time I reached the end of the book, I have to admit, however, the task of improving my library’s marketing efforts still seemed a bit overwhelming for a system with a lot of heart but simply too few staff to tackle an all-encompassing marketing campaign as laid out in great detail by the author. Mr. Potter did calm me down a bit with his conclusion, which pointed out even small steps add up to big results—something I will have to keep in mind as I and the rest of the staff plot our marketing journey. I am certain I will be referring back to The Library Marketing Toolkit for years to come.

For more information about this book or the author visit .

Tech-Savvy Staff: Better Service for Library Users

TechSoup’s Tech Savvy Staff: Better Service for Library Users was the best webinar I have attended in quite some time. The practical advice and techniques for a topic I have wrestled with in recent months was terrific, and I am so grateful that I was able to attend this afternoon.

How do we keep staff relevant in the community? The presenters of this event were Penny Talbert, the Executive Director of the Ephrata Public Library and Stephanie Zimmerman, the Training & Development Coordinator for the Library System of Lancaster County.

The ladies started by sharing the bigger goal of– “How do we as a library become known as the technology hub of the community?” Everything was built around this goal and of building up the skills of her staff. Penny and her co-presenters were extremely open and giving with what worked and also the challenges they ran into. They were positive, yet realistic with their presentation.

I left the presentation with a ton of ideas, notes, website addresses, and email addresses. I feel well-prepared to move forward with many of these ideas.

If you are looking for ways to build staff competencies through skill building — be sure to check out this excellent free webinar archive.

Project Management

Yesterday I was able to attend a project management workshop specifically aimed at providing the management teams at my library the tools to define, plan, and launch successful projects for our system. A top knotch facilitator out of Chicago was in Florida for the Sunshine State Leadership Institute and a coworker of mine had the great idea to invite her to provide the same training to our organization’s managers. DeEtta Jones has an incredible resume, but the workshop was even better than what I had hoped it would be. It was packed full of useful information, helpful language, and practical exercises focused on real-world projects about to be launched in our library system. DeEtta was professional and an excellent presenter. Her worksheets and support materials will serve as a valuable resource for years to come.

For more information about DeEtta Jones & Associates:

Thing 23: What next?

My 23 Things for Professional Development program has come to an end. This has been a great experience that I am glad I did. I learned about new technology tools, but also had a chance to really think about some bigger issues such as advocacy and lifelong learning. While in the day-to-day grind, it is sometimes difficult to remember to dedicate some time to these important issues and to spend time planning and not just doing.

For my last Thing, I considered my professional development plan. For my job, I have a list of five goals for the year that I have agreed to work on. These are a bit big and broad in nature. For this Thing, I decided to take the guidelines located at along with my library’s new strategic plan and those big goals that are on my PEP and draft a working document. I believe this will be a useful tool. I used the goals from the strategic plan and broke them down into chunks of responsibilities which are in my circle of influence. I believe it will adapt and change as I have more conversations with my supervisor and other library leaders and my understanding of the priorities firms up a bit more over time. This is a start, anyhow.

I’m thrilled with the 23 Things Program. I encourage others to work their way through the Things and discover some great new tools and ideas to further your own library related goals!

Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience

I must admit – I have never done this. Unpaid library internships are becoming more and more common, and several of my classmates in school took advantage of these opportunities to earn college credit while gaining experience in a particular field of library work.

I have recruited and supervised several interns who took advantage of this opportunity to gain experience in the adult and teen departments at my last library. I even spent some time researching the pros and cons of offering unpaid internships to recent college grads who were still looking for full time employment. I’ve had some excellent experiences with volunteer interns and had some experiences with a few bumps along the way. It seems to work best when the library has very specific projects that need to get done. These projects need to be the kind that are independent and do not require a lot of supervision, or the experience quickly becomes a time drain for the supervisor and frustrating for the volunteer. Being able to recognize when an individual may not be able to deliver in the interview process is also extremely important. It is true that this person is agreeing to work for no pay, but that doesn’t mean it is “free” labor. It costs time and energy to train and supervise, evaluate and provide constructive criticism to library volunteers who are at your location to learn skills to put on their resume. The expectation at the end of the experience is that the volunteer will know how to do certain things or handle themselves better in certain situations and that you as the employer will then vouch for them. It has to be a win/win for all sides involved. If there are warning signs early on that there might be difficulty in coming to that end point – it really is best for all parties to be honest and up front with each other.

Developing an internship program is in my library’s strategic plan for the next five years. I have no idea if I will be involved in any way. If I am, I have very certain views (obviously) on what makes a terrific experience and what doesn’t. From a supervisor’s standpoint I must say that it can be extremely rewarding to get to know a student while they are working through their classes and have all these great fresh ideas spinning through their head and then you get them and make a few of them a reality in a real-world situation. Seeing that person progress through their career is pretty cool too. It is worth the effort as long as you have the time and processes in place to make it a success and you recruit individuals who share your library’s vision.

This post is part of the 23 Things for Professional Development program. This online professional development program provides the opportunity for librarians to explore new technology and outreach ideas and apply them by completing activities each week and then blogging about their experience.