Category Archives: Libraries

The Transparent Library eBook

The Transparent Library Cover Art

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Michael Stephens to compile all 29 of our “The Transparent Library” columns from Library Journal into an e-book. In addition to the columns we wrote between 2007 and 2009 we added several essays and the transcript of a Google Hangout we had last month where we revisited the many changes that have transpired since 2009.

It was a fun endeavor and this new e-book is now available for free, either as a MOBI file or as PDF. We hope you’ll find it encouraging and useful.


The Transparent Library PDF

The Transparent Library MOBI file for Kindle

From the book description:  The “Transparent Library” gathers 29 columns from Michael Casey and Michael Stephens. Originally published in Library Journal from 2007 – 2009, the column explored concepts related to transparency, management, engaging communities, social media, strategic planning and constant change. The e-book includes supplemental essays and columns, and includes a new conversation “The Transparent Library Revisited.”

Circulating Ideas – Episode 36: Michael Stephens and Michael Casey

“Steve speaks with Michael Stephens and Michael Casey, writers of the late, lamented ‘Transparent Library’ column for Library Journal.” Circulating Ideas Episode 36.

Charles Pace Named New Director at Gwinnett

Charles Pace was named Executive Director of the Gwinnett County Public Library. Dick Goodman, chair of the Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees, made the announcement as the sole order of business at tonight’s Board Meeting.

Pace, a 2006 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, was most recently the director of the St. Louis County Library. Before that, he was director at the Fargo Public Library.

EDIT Text of Gwinnett’s press release:



(Lawrenceville, Ga., Dec. 13, 2013) – Charles Pace of St. Louis, Mo., has been appointed executive director of the Gwinnett County Public Library by the library board of trustees at a special called meeting on Friday, December 13.

Pace has been executive director of the 20-branch St. Louis County library system since 2006. He has also directed the Fargo, N.D., library system and managed branch libraries in Houston and Chicago. He holds a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Texas. Library Journal named him a “Mover and Shaker” in 2006.

In St. Louis, he maintained budget surpluses throughout the recession, led a successful campaign to fund capital improvements, increased circulation and library use, and partnered with more than 100 community groups to help support the library system, which was named a “Top Workplace in St Louis” by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“The board and staff are excited that Charles Pace will lead the Gwinnett County public library system,” said Dick Goodman, chairman of the library board. “Coming from a library that is slightly larger than ours, serving a population similar in size to that of Gwinnett, he has the level and kind of financial, operational and managerial experience the board feels is necessary to effectively manage our own dynamic library system.”

He pointed to Pace’s record of building community partnerships as one of the reasons the board selected him for the job. “We look forward to working with Charles to create stronger connections between the library and its patrons in the numerous and diverse communities the library serves and to guide the Gwinnett County public library to become a showcase of the 21st century library,” said Goodman.

Gwinnett’s library system receives county and state funding as well as self-generated funds. In addition, since 2001, SPLOST sales tax programs have provided more than $20 million for new branch construction, renovations, upgrades and relocations. The library’s trustees are appointed by county commissioners.

The system owns more than a million books, magazines, e-books and media items and provides public access to 250 online databases at each of its 15 branches. Last year, almost 290,000 cardholders checked out 6.7 million items with 21 percent handled by self-service. Staff answered more than 81,000 questions to the AskGCPL phone and email service and 4,880 volunteers donated 37,000 hours of service.

More information about the Gwinnett County library system is available at

The Hyperlinked Library MOOC: Participatory Service

I had the privilege of speaking with Michael Stephens for his upcoming Fall 2013 Hyperlinked Library MOOC at the San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science. The topic of our conversation was participatory library service, community engagement, the use of teams, and a few other interesting issues.

Using Google+ Hangouts

I knew it was expecting a lot from a free service. With ten people on a Google+ Hangout, all at the same time, I anticipated there would be problems. And there was one, but only one.

My library’s Emerging Technologies Team meets monthly, with every-other month’s meeting being remote. They’ve tried many remote meeting solutions, both paid and free. The pricey professional services work well but are too expensive to purchase the number of licenses we require.

In late June I received an invitation to try Google+. Immediately I began seeing Google+ users like Trey Ratcliff holding informative Hangouts with up to nine of his friends. Others, too, were using Hangouts to bring together groups of people for very fun and lively discussions. The possibilities were obvious.

So, the team set out to hold its next remote meeting via Google+ Hangouts. Everyone who didn’t have an account was sent an invitation, and IT made certain that everyone had a device equipped with a web-cam. The Google voice and video plug-in was installed on all the computers. Some early testing was done with small groups of two and three, but the day of the meeting was the first time all ten team members would log on at the same time.

When the time finally came to log on, everything went rather smoothly. Network speeds were rather good, and everyone’s video feed was clear. It only took a few minutes for everyone to adapt to the modified speaking style needed for remote video meetings.

All of our problems were related to sound. People relying on their desktop or laptop’s built-in microphone were sending out noisy audio — background noise, weak volume, and feedback were all problems. Also, two people were situated in the same room but were using different laptops, each relying on their built-in mic. That was a recipe for feedback hell. One team member briefly tried to use their iPhone, but the audio quality was terrible.

The other audio problem was related to having ten people in the meeting without anyone’s mic being muted — everyone was transmitting background noise. While this isn’t a problem when one or two people have their mics on, having ten mics on was creating a very high noise to signal situation.

Fortunately, the solutions are rather simple:

  1. Equip everyone with a headphone/microphone. This can be something as cheap as a $5 iMicro device, but a unit that employs noise cancellation works better. I used a Plantronics headset and was very happy with the quality.  
  2. Make sure everyone understands to mute their mic when they are not speaking. The moderator can do this, but it’s easier if everyone simply does it themselves.

Google Hangouts offer a lot of productivity potential to teams and others wanting to collaborate remotely. New features announced in late September offer the ability to view Google Docs, screenshare, and use a sketchpad. You can even broadcast your Hangout so anyone can watch — you could interview a group of authors and invite everyone in your library system to watch.

We’re going to continue exploring the potential of Google Hangouts. With library budgets tight and IT departments looking for more and more ways to find efficiencies, Google Hangouts offers a very appealing set of features at a great price (free). Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

More info: Google: About Hangouts

You can find me on Google+.