Internet Librarian 2010: Fail! Learn! Share!
**The winner, crowned Royal Majesty of Failure – Margaret Hazel!**
Beth Gallaway – Game Design Failure
Beth Gallaway started the Fail! Learn! Share! session by talking about failing at gaming. She tried to use Ben10 and Scratch to create a game. She showed a tag cloud of the words used in her correspondence with her colleague about getting the session set up. The IT manager was on vacation. All their computers were set up with the software for a teen game creation program. But all the computers shut down and ran the Deep Freeze program, erasing the game installations they’d worked so hard on. She has 5 lessons learned:
1) Talk directly with IT
2) Bring backup laptops
3) Be flexible
4) Offer low and no tech activities as a back-up
The first week failed. The second week failed too — the teens wanted to create shooting games with Scratch, and that didn’t fly with the library management. The lack of communication, delays, and lack of focus on the end user.
Margaret Hazel – Unified City Website Failure
The City Manager decided that the city website needed to be one look and one feel, with portal software. It was publicly funded and very visible because of the public money directed at the project. The City departments involved were not experienced with website creation, usability, or content creation. The portal product was purchased and implemented, but the project failed because their portal product was phased out, professional relationships were damaged in the process. She also highlighted personal failures including crying at a meeting. But she did get a mug and a certificate! Yay! Believe in your project and goals, organize what you want to say, back it up with data, and say “Stand Back I’m a Librarian!”
Jeff Scott – Computer Time Management Failure
They had $10,000 to set up a computer time management system. Jeff pitched an open source solution and the director and IT manager both liked it. The one guy in IT who didn’t like the idea got assigned to the project. It took 3 months to develop and install the system, and it lasted all of 5 minutes. All was going well, and then everything started slowing down – the network freaked out. Lessons learned – ask the right questions of the right people before starting. Treat every project like a request for proposal. Get the details about implementations, what happened, and how they like it. And prepare for success as well as failure – what will you do if everything goes fubar?
Andrew Shuping – Learning Commons Failure
People in his library liked “the idea” of a learning commons – buzzword envy! In 2009 they decided Andrew was going to become the Learning Commons Librarian and it didn’t work! There was no clear goal for the project, nor any new spaces for the commons or money to use for the project. There were no clear reporting or organizational lines. People were hung up on traditional approaches as well. But worst of all – no one could agree on what a learning commons was! Without any clear definition, there was no way the project was going to succeed. “Having an idea and calling it that doesn’t make it reality.”
Kim Silk – Intranet Failure
She shows a word cloud of “a corner of her brain.” She works at the University of Toronto, and she doesn’t have to deal with the bureaucracy. She works for Richard Florida, a bit of a big deal in Canada. When she started she was told that the library had 2 terrabytes of data but no one knew where anything was. They tried a number of intranet tools and ended up with SharePoint, and it doesn’t work on various platforms as a good intranet tool should. She fails daily, but she has a supportive manager who is okay with her failing regularly.
Sandra Stewart – SharePoint Intranet Failure
The San Jose Public Library has a collaboration with the San Jose State University Library. Both institutions have different missions, and at the end of 2007 decided to get SharePoint so the two different institutions could collaborate. The product was purchased without a plan for rolling it out. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him learn SharePoint!” There are still staff members who don’t know how to use SharePoint. She was an early adopter and was not included in the pilot group, and that’s wrong. When it finally rolled out, she forced her staff to use SharePoint by taking away their paper calendar and putting all of that information on to SharePoint. You need to train, train, and train more. You need to require adoption of new tech by taking away the old alternative. And always, always let the early adopters in first.