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Triumphant return

2014 July 29
by Lichen Rancourt

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that I have accepted the position of Library Director at the fantastic Jackson Public Library. This fantastic small-town library has unrivaled community support. Having recently opened in a brand new building – renovated barn! They worked with Madison and Tamworth (Hi mom) to create the Northern New Hampshire Library Cooperative and launched Koha as a consortia. And this spring hired yours truly to develop themselves a fancy new website.

With all those fundamentals in place I am excited to have the opportunity and luxury of being able to focus on the Library’s future and deliberately plan their next steps into the future. I am looking forward to working with their fantastic staff, board of trustees, and, most of all, community to make a Library that they continue to be proud of.

But wait, there’s more…

I am also working with our local Robert Frost Charter School to develop a library for their students. I am so proud to have been awarded the project and the investments they have already made in the project. I intend to document my processes here in order to share with them but also invite those with more library media experience to advise me. I am a seat-of-the-pants worker more than a planner so I am just crashing forward knowing that I will likely have to restart.

Having met with administration and gotten the official blessing my first goal is to install them an ILS. I chose Koha for its flexibility and, of course, open-source. It seems flexible enough to me to meet their current modest needs, but could also grown with them. Yesterday’s goal was to make a solid start on installing it onto a retired Win XP laptop (thanks, mom! Isn’t she the greatest, ladies and gents?). I was quickly overwhelmed with the prospect of managing a Debian install with the required components before even making a run at Koha. I emailed my friend Nicole at Bywater Solutions. She confirmed my process, but then offered a link to EasyKoha

I downloaded the iso file to my computer and used the Windows Disc Image Burner to create a bootable DVD. From there it was easy to both run Koha off the DVD and to partition the drive and install the works. It literally finished installing, rebooted, I logged in and opened Firefox straight into a Koha install. Perfect for an sense of accomplishment and instant gratification!

Today I am collecting information about how to begin developing a shelving scheme for a school library and also configuring my new Koha install.

Madison Barns

2014 January 25
by Lichen Rancourt

Madison Barns

I just ran across this fantastic blog exploring the history of the barns in my hometown. Even better is that it is sponsored by the Friends of the Madison Library and leads up to a summer barn tour fundraiser! Way to serve and represent your community, Madison! I am positively weak with pride.

A Hanging in Dover

2011 June 4
by Lichen Rancourt

Too many libraries are missing a great opportunity online to represent their communities to the wider world. I am a big fan of the Dover (NH) Public Library and they did an awesome job yesterday:

This day in Dover history, June 3, 1788, is the anniversary of the first hanging in Dover. Elisha Thomas was executed for the murder of Captain Peter Drown. “In February of the year 1788 , at the tavern of Mr. Randall in New Durham, Elisha Thomas, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, got into an altercation with another man, both were badly under the influence of old New England rum. Captain Peter Drown of New Durham, a fine Revolutionary officer, tried to separate them; in so endeavoring he was stabbed by the knife of Thomas and he died a few hours later. Thomas expressed his regret and deep grief at the death of this friend whom he had not intended to wound but he was arrested, brought to old Dover goal, leaving a wife and six children at home. Some little time later, she came to Dover with the youngest child being left at a neighbor’s house, and stayed over night at the jail. In the night the house in New Durham, with the five other children in it asleep; caught fire, and four were burned to death, the oldest one alone escaping.” Check the online history section of our website for the rest of this tragic story.

Written in personal voice- check; local history – check; promotes other resources- check; provides the info instead of teasing- check.

A New Catalog is Blooming!

2011 May 17
by Lichen Rancourt

Chelmsford Library has done a super job informing patrons of their upcoming new catalog and anticipating concerns they may have about it:

Should I print out copies of My Lists, My Holds and My Searches?
No, you shouldn’t need to. We’re confident that all this data will migrate to Evergreen just fine. But if it would make you feel more comfortable, then go ahead and print the information that is most important to you, such as items checked out, your holds list, My List titles, etc. in order to ensure that you have a backup of that information.

Why did you spend money on a new catalog during these tough economic times?
Since our old catalog was no longer supported, a change had to be made. MVLC and other library networks in Massachusetts formed MassLNC, and together we are all adopting the Evergreen catalog. The new open source software allows us to do that at significantly lower costs – it eliminates the costs of yearly software license renewals, distributes development costs amongst multiple library systems, and also puts us more in control of future developments. Which, in fact, is one of our primary concerns: Horizon was old and outdated, and Evergreen provides us with the ability to expand and update the catalog to meet patrons’ needs for many years to come.

I suppose it’s not too much of a surprise that libraries are sometimes poor at managing change. I like Chelmsford’s approach for going beyond just ‘this is happening’ to anticipating the specific questions people may have. Beyond that, I admire that they addressed the tough but inevitable money-question right up front in a clear, thoughtful, and non-dramatic way. I hope their migration to Evergreen goes smoothly and I am looking forward to test driving their new catalog.

An NHLTA Confession

2011 May 10
by Lichen Rancourt

As I said, I was honored to be asked to speak to NH Library Trustees yesterday. Marie, my handler, pointed out to me that the trustee role is too often overlooked. This was an opportunity to sing my tune to a new crop of library decision makers. With stars in my eyes I wrote the session teaser for their program:

How to choose the best tools, use them appropriately, and how to integrate online services into existing workflows. A demo website will show the potential that exists for library online services and provide some direction with which to begin.

Months passed before I actually sat down to write the talk. Trustees, I reasoned, are meant as support for librarians who are the ones doing the work on the website. What the trustees really need is to understand why web services are important and what kind of commitment is involved. I figured they really don’t want to know the nuts and bolts so I focused on WHY they should expect their librarians to be doing this stuff.

The talk was moving along happily and as I finished up the hard-core theory and moved into a quick introduction to some tools a pair of intrepid trustees stopped me to request that perfect website. They held up the program and pointed to the blurb. I stammered. It’s a tough one; there is no magic bullet for creating the right website. There is no one perfect way. It depends upon your town, your goals, your staff, your commitment, your technology skills…. on and on. Be that as it may, these ladies wanted that demo site I had promised. [Cue hanging head.]

I came home rattled but I began to think what an ‘ideal site’ might look like. If I were working in a Lichen-dream-world – a wonderful library where I had the time and resources and support and patron interest to make such a site – what would it look like? So, this morning with the baby snoozing downstairs, I am sitting down to start building the Ideal Library Website; a best-case-scenario for the hands-on trustees that called me out yesterday!

I plan to do this transparently in order to demonstrate the complexities involved, even in a perfect world. I started by moving the files on this webserver into the root so that I can use the Multi-User feature of WordPress to make an ‘If I Were a Library’ subdirectory. Stay tuned for more.

Creative Content

2011 May 9
by Lichen Rancourt

I am honored to be speaking to NH Library Trustees today about the role of Library websites. It isn’t everyday I get to talk straight to the decision makers; so I’m excited to hear their questions and concerns.

Facing Facebook

2011 May 5
by Lichen Rancourt

Online programmingI am proud to be giving a presentation today at the NH Library Association Annual Conference. It took me awhile to get on board, but the fact is that our users are using Facebook and we should be there.

If I could deliver one message from the talk it would be to please, put your programming on Facebook. Do not use Facebook to advertise your programs.

I’ve always wondered what a shirt waist was

2011 March 26
by Lichen Rancourt

I’ve been following the Library of Congress blog for quite a number of years. I usually speed right past it without really reading for two reasons. 1. Their posts are a bit long for my liking and 2. The topics and writing style are a bit stiff. It’s
Imagine my delight with today’s post about a little known event in fashion history. I was riveted, even followed all the links.

Gets me thinking about what makes a good, engaging blog post. I have talked before about blogging as a very specific form of creative writing. I think that the hook is the the detail. The broad view is a yawn for me; I can’t relate. But imagining a huge trend in woman’s fashion leading to a bustling factory and then a tragic fire. That’s fodder for my imagination for a whole day.

Back to the basics

2011 January 28
by Lichen Rancourt

It’s frustratingly ironic that in the three years I was at MCL, I didn’t have time to sit down and come up with a integrated approach to designing online services. I haven’t been gone a month and I’m blogging about how I would do things if I were them.

When people walk in the door of the Library where do they go? In my experience one of three places:

  1. New books section
  2. DVD section
  3. Public computers

So, when you are planning to offer services to the iPhone-RSS-Facebook-SMS-QRcode set (I do not mean teenagers, necessarily) a list of what is new in your collection is a logical place to start.

By now there’s no excuse for your OPAC/ILS to NOT offer new items in RSS. If they don’t, please hassle them. They can’t give us what they don’t know we want! If they do, put it everywhere! Just to be sure it works, I have added the list of new books in my hometown library to my sidebar. I am also going to contact my local community blog and ask them to do the same.

Who knew it snowed in Kansas City?

2011 January 10
by Lichen Rancourt

My head is all up in Twitter having spend the last few days writing about it. So I was interested that the tweet about a emergency closing from the Kansas City Public Library included a link, Pic:. Huh, I thought… first, awesome that they labeled it; second, what picture could possibly illustrate an early closing? Answer?

It snows in Kansas City...

I love many things about this:

  1. It’s playful and contradicts the stuffy image of libraries many people have,
  2. It is a picture, everyone loves illustrations! And a picture of the local area which is even better.
  3. It shows off the Kansas City Library’s online history collection, ‘even when we are closed for snow, you can use library services online.’

A few years back the Cook Memorial Library posted some videos with their closing-for-weather message. To this day patrons ask for it when they close… softens the blow.