Friday, April 12, 2019

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: What to do when things do not go according to the Project Plan!

Jeremy Cusker (Cornell University Libraries) talked through a collaborative journal subscription project, that was focused on lowering costs. He noted that when a vendor carries open access journals, that it doesn’t reduce the costs. He also noted that it wasn’t possible to be completely data driven.  Some selectors felt that how faculty felt about specific journals needed to be considered. 

The day then ended with a quick panel discussion with some of the presenters:
  • Jill Wilson
  • Erin Smith
  • Emily Clasper
  • Elaine Lasda
  • Jeremy Cusker
  • Kelly Johnson
One question they all answered was: What have you done when things go wrong?

Final thoughts

This was a wonderful day of learning about project management. It both reinforced what we knew, and allowed to gain new knowledge.  The event was held in the Erie Canal Museum, which was a nice location.  Lunch was catered by Scratch Farmhouse Catering, which was awesome.  The event was sponsored by EBSCO and Elsevier.  Thanks to the reps for coming to Syracuse and telling us about their products.

Next year is the Chapter's 75th anniversary!  I'm looking forward to the celebrations!

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Adapting to Change: Revising the Plan

Erin Smith and Laura Benjamin (SU Libraries) undertook a massive endeavor to free up space in the Syracuse University Bird Library, which required shifting a high number of books. They needed to shift books from the second floor to make more space for students.  No books could be shifted outside of Bird Library and there wasn't enough time to do weeding.

Will the books fit?
  • They did a shelf count and they measured the collection 
  • They were only able to add 84 shelves, which was not enough.
  • While all the books would fit into the library, the shelf fill rate would be higher than recommended.
Who will do the work?  The fact that staff is unionized impacted that.  They were able to work through this issue.
The developed strategic fill rates for each call number based on growth.  They created four fill rate categories. 

They used an Excel spreadsheet to map every shelf in the library.  This was a ton of work, but it helped them recognize when their plan was not yielding the free space they expected.

They made a glossary so that all workers were calling things by the same names.

Erin and Laura talked us through an amazing 8-month project that was fraught with problems that crept in.  They found creative solutions for addressing the problems they encountered, including not having enough space.  The good news is that they got done on schedule.

Long term impacts
  • No extra room
  • Ongoing discussion on future plans for space
Broader takeaways
  • Solid planning gives you a framework to rely on, even when the project doesn’t play out as planned
  • Keep the goal and related projects in mind when making changes

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Developing a Service Model

Kelly Johnson, Amelia Kallaher, and Sara Scinto-Madonich (all from Cornell University Libraries), used their experience with developing a systematic review service to discuss project management.  They do methodical and comprehensive literature synthesis. In creating their service, they met roadblocks along the way.

Road block 1: How to standardize our process? (Process standardization)
  • Identify problems and brainstorm solutions
  • Make sure the problems are clear
  • Establish workflows and designate responsibility 
  • There should be a coherent workflow
  • Embrace iteration
Road block 2: How to better manage our time? (Time management)
  • Create helpful resources
  • Get information into the hands of people when they need it 
  • They built tools into their libguide.  They put in the libguide information that they had normally covered face-to-face.
Road block 3: How to address misconceptions? (Patron Expectations)
  • They found that they needed to standup for themselves
  • Expectations and boundaries clearly defined
Road block 4: How to ask for and get help? (Getting help)
  • What happens when you’re spread too thin?
  • You need to advocate
  • Recruit additional help

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Project Management Basics

Jill Wilson (ChaseDesign LLC) and Erin Rowley (University at Buffalo) presented on "Project Management Basics."

They reminded us that project management is not a hope.  It is also not an ongoing initiative.  Projects do have beginnings and ends.

The project manager controls and manages all aspects of any project.  The project manager has one job.

Main components of project management are:
  • Scope and charter: what is and is not. Be aware of scope creep.  The charter should help you keep things in bounds.
  • Time and task: estimating and tracking the time it takes to do all the things in order to complete the project.  What is the critical path?
  • Cost and procurement
  • Human resources 
  • Quality control and risk: risk assessment matrix
  • Stakeholders and communication: potential influence vs. potential interest.  How do people want to be updated?
They noted that it all overlaps!  In addition, not all components will be part of every project.

Then Jill and Erin noted one more thing: You need to close your projects.  Take the time to reflect, learn, and document.  Make it a formal closure. They suggested scheduling the closure meeting when you schedule the kick-off meeting.

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Operationalizing Project Management

Emily Clasper, MLIS, PMP (University of Rochester) provided a humorous and iinsightful look at project management.  Her presentation is online (and below) at and it contains more information than she presented in her keynote.

Emily used the story of the old woman, who swallowed a fly, and then swallowing the spider to catch the fly.  Then she swallows a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow, and then a horse.  And then she died of course. (This is a children’s rhyme).  Project management can feel like you’ve solved one problem but the you have another one, that is bigger (like the horse).  Project management is a tool, but you need to consider the problem you are trying to solve.

What is the fly?  It could be:
  • Need to focus on strategic goals
  • Scarce resources
  • Frustration with the pace of change
  • Work is not done efficiently
  • No pathway to truly cross-functional world
Project management benefits can include:
  • Focused on strategic goals
  • Clear objectives
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Faster progress
  • Risk Management
  • Communication tools
She works in a library that has taken a project oriented approach.  They are successful, but it has surfaced unexpected impacts.

Challenges to address when you try to become more project oriented
  • Misunderstand project management - This has to do its setting expectations.  It is not a tool, set of documents,  a task list, a Gantt chart, a single method. It is a methodology and Emily provided her definition (slide 14).  She noted that there is a difference between project work and operational work.
  • Confusion with reporting and authority - managers coordinate the projects, but it will be people in specific silos who do the work. Communication in this structure can be slow. Some organizations use a projectized structure. There are dedicated project managers, who gather people to work on specific projects. In terms of structure, Emily talked about strong, weak, and balanced matrix.  You need to sort our organizational confusion.
  • Communication complexity - You cannot skimp on communication.  The number of communication paths becomes a problem. 10 people would have 45 communication paths!  Prioritize strong communications. Consider communication structures between projects. Where is your hub?
  • Cross departmental resources management 
  • Change management 
  • Career development
The last three, which she did not discuss, can come up later in an organization’s development.

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Managing the Most Critical Project of All: Yourself

daffodilThe Upstate New York Chapter of SLA is holding its spring conference today (April 12) in Syracuse, NY. The conference theme is "Managing Projects: Tales from the Trenches."  Among the presenters are Elaine Lasda and me, who are talking about personal time management, or as our proposal said, "Managing the Most Critical Project of All: Yourself."  Rather than creating a handout, we are posting our resources here, so the links are clickable.  Enjoy.

Session Description

To successfully manage a project, you must be able to manage yourself.  Elaine and Jill will first introduce you to the tools and processes they use – including Toodledo, Trello, Bullet Journal, and Getting Things Done – to manage projects and bring short- and long-term goals to fruition.  Then they will prompt you to consider how you can improve on your current methods in order to excel in self-organization.

Session PowerPoint

Personal Time Management from Elaine Lasda and Jill Hurst-Wahl

Session Resources from Jill Hurst-Wahl

Getting Things Done

Bullet Journal

Session Resources from Elaine Lasda

·        Tools

·        Select “Guru” articles and blogs

·         Planners

·         Book

Addendum (9:15 p.m.): During the session, I mentioned this blog post entitled "Building a Team", which includes helpful links on being more effective with email.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Shifting Gears 2017

Sifting Gears report cover
In the past, I have referenced the OCLC report Shifting Gears, which was published in 2007 (Notes from NSLS' Digitization Symposium and The death of high fidelity?). That was an important report to me.  Last week, I was looking through the reports OCLC has published and found an updated version, published in 2017.  If you are involved in digitization, consider reading it, bookmarking it, and/or keeping it. You will not be sorry.