Category Archives: Outside Resources

Ello: Simple, Beautiful, Ad-free, and Definitely BETA

logo_808707_printIf you have not been introduced to yet, allow me the pleasure. Ello is a nascent social network with a conscience and a manifesto (which reads).

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Powerful stuff. Useful stuff? Not quite yet.  I love the mission of Ello, but have little use for the service thus far.  The key to a good social network for me, is being able to find the people that I want to interact with.  I do not socially network randomly very often.  Ello is still in Beta format and is by invitation only.  Anyone can request an invite, but currently I cannot find enough of my family and friends on Ello to actually consider abandoning Twitter or Facebook.  So, as long as I have to continue using Twitter and Facebook, Ello is not yet taking hold in my life.  But I want it to.  I do not want to be Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant product any longer.

There are important questions to ask though.  Is Ello’s model sustainable?  They believe that it is.  The company is registered as a Public Benefit Corporation, which is a for profit business that creates a benefit for society.  From their own site this means:

1) Ello shall never make money from selling ads;

2) Ello shall never make money from selling user data; and

3) In the event that Ello is ever sold, the new owners will have to comply by these terms.

In other words, Ello exists for your benefit, and will never show ads or sell user data.

That does not mean that it is sustainable though.  Will they make enough profit or raise enough money to have the capacity to support the large networks that we all now expect?  Will they have the resources to protect data from hackers?  Not selling our data does not mean that it is protected.  Will this turn into a donation supported PBC?  As a huge supporter and user of, I would much rather donate $10 a year for a great social network, than continue being the product of Twitter and Facebook.  All of these questions will be answered in time, but most importantly, Ello must grow.  Its functionality and usefulness will grow for me, as I am able find the people I want within its network.







By: Dustin Fife, Outreach Librarian for Utah Valley University

On Innovation (but not technology!)

logo_808707_printIn September, Adriana wrote an astute post on this blog about the term “innovation” being equated with “technology.” I have been musing on that subject for the past several days, especially as it pertains to public libraries, and increasingly, academic libraries. I now work in an academic library, but I got my start there. I have also worked in a homeless shelter, and that experience provides a backdrop for some of the following musings as well.

Adriana’s post sparked my thought process about an inherent challenge for libraries; that is, how best to serve different and diverse communities of users, from the homeless population to tech-savvy teens interested in videogame design and programming. I’m also very interested in how we serve populations that we can’t “see”; libraries often focus on user needs via surveys of current users. But what about services to homebound seniors and senior centers? What about the growing population of refugees? What about the students (and this is a true example from my own experience) who never enter the library until the final semester of their master’s degree? We have had SIX YEARS to reach this patron, whom we could have given very valuable resources; how and why have we not done so?

Some libraries have addressed the needs of homeless populations by incorporating social service offices into their premises and adding homeless street outreach workers to their staff. When I think about how often I helped library patrons log onto the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) website to access benefits (e.g. food stamps, unemployment, etc.) and assisted patrons with resume and job application questions, these ideas seem to be on the right track. But what about bringing the library to the homeless population as well? For instance, starting a satellite operation in the homeless shelter in conjunction with DWS staff, where folks can check out and return books, learn tech skills, and use computers?

I realize libraries can’t be everything to everyone, and I’m not picking on any particular library here because I think we must partner with each other in order to operate such outreach efforts; academic as well as public libraries must be invested in their communities. For instance, given the entrepreneurial business community downtown, could the library community in greater Salt Lake City offer tutorials on conducting patent and trademark searching, copyright information, and industry and market research through the Women’s Business Center Business Essentials program? Could we jointly operate a one-librarian satellite location downtown to assist entrepreneurs and established business owners with research and information needs?

When libraries think about expanding services, we often just add more, when we could be adding the right resources or targeting new populations. We add more databases, more e-books, more computers, and more branches. This is not necessarily wrong; we often do need more, but I think it would also be useful for us to think about using what we have to target new populations and match the right resources to the right patron.

We must open ourselves up to the diversity of what our patrons actually are, as well as who our patrons could be, while at the same time maintaining our identity as knowledge institutions and spaces where quiet introspection can take free rein (and surprisingly, quiet space is often hard to find in today’s libraries!). I’m not maintaining that I know how to execute innovation in reaching users, given increasingly tight budgets, underpaid and overworked staff, and competing interests for library services, but my intent here was simply to put out some ideas. What innovative services does your library offer? What would you like to see your library offer? What do you think is working in terms of reaching new users? What’s not working? Post it all here!

There are several articles that I consulted in writing this post. Shannon Mattern wrote an excellent piece published in Places Journal titled Library as Infrastructure (June 2014). Jeff Goldenson and Nate Hill wrote an article titled Making Room for Innovation for Library Journal (May 16, 2013). Additional musings were found in Thomas Felton’s Innovation Teams article for the Urban Libraries Council.

By Jessica Breiman, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

On Finding Your Inspiration

By: Jessica Breiman, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library

logo_808707_printIf you are like me, sometimes your job is not always the most fulfilling. You might feel stunted, bored, or outright frustrated by work obligations. Maybe the job isn’t fulfilling enough, maybe navigating the bureaucracy gets you down, maybe you get frustrated by the clash of personalities and competing demands of other librarians. Maybe it isn’t the job really at all; sometimes adult working life is not very exciting in itself, amirite?

Whatever your frustration, it’s important to find sources of inspiration for yourself. Sources of inspiration can be books, people, projects, professional education, conferences, or any combination of the above.

Working in libraries, there are sources of inspiration on the shelves all around us. One that I recently read is Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie. MacKenzie is a retired Hallmark Greeting Card executive. Having served in a variety of positions, including as a greeting card designer, in a corporation that should reward and prize creativity, yet still gets bogged down in the minutiae of policies, meetings, and general bureaucracy, MacKenzie has years of insight into orbiting the corporate monster (or hairball) yet not getting sucked into its inner, entangled core.

MacKenzie (1998) writes, “Every new policy is another hair for the Hairball. Hairs are never taken away, only added. Even frequent reorganizations have failed to remove hairs (people, sometimes; hairs, never). Quite the contrary, each reorganization seems to add a whole new layer of hairs. ..With the increase in the Hairball’s mass comes a corresponding increase in the Hairball’s gravity. There is such a thing as Corporate Gravity. As in the world of physics, so too in the corporate world: The gravitational pull a body exerts increases as the mass of that body increases. And, like physical gravity, it is the nature of Corporate Gravity to suck everything into the mass – in this case, into the mass of Corporate Normalcy. The trouble with this is that Corporate Normalcy derives from and is dedicated to past realities and past successes. There is no room in the Hairball of Corporate Normalcy for original thinking or primary creativity” (p. 31). [emphasis mine]

The challenge for the reader is this: MacKenzie doesn’t offer the reader a roadmap to happiness and creativity at work. That’s our part of the journey!

One option to get you motivated could be asking what projects your colleagues are working on and offer to help; perhaps you can get involved with something outside your work zone and develop a new skill. Another option is simply to ask for help. I know that I forget that people, especially my colleagues, WANT to help me! All I have to do is ask! If you can be honest with your supervisor, maybe you can discuss your problem with them and ask for input or permission to start a new project. Maybe other colleagues can provide suggestions of what keeps them inspired and effective at work.

While admittedly, libraries have much less funding than Hallmark, what can we make happen on our wee little budgets? Maybe there is a free conference you can attend, a low-cost local training, or some other professional education opportunity that could help jumpstart your imagination. Is there a scholarship available? And how can your middle management help you?

MacKenzie (1998) writes “Any time a bureaucrat (i.e. a custodian of a system) stands between you and something you need or want, your challenge is to help that bureaucrat discover a means, harmonious with the system, to meet your need” (p. 139). What programs, projects, or collaborations could we start? Maybe it’s not a big thing. Maybe yours is a small project. But the point is to make it big enough so that you are launched away from the hairball and into orbit!

MacKenzie, G. (1998). Orbiting the giant hairball: A corporate fool’s guide to surviving with grace. New York: Viking Penguin.


logo_808707_printI just want everyone to know, though I may have already made this abundantly clear through past podcasts and blog posts, that I AM A HUGE SUPPORTER OF ILEAD USA Utah! The deadline for applications is only two weeks away and I encourage everyone to get involved. Creative Libraries Utah is a product of ILEAD USA Utah 2013. This program and our project have been an important success in my career. I had the opportunity to work with colleagues and mentors from across the state and country. I was taught skills that helped develop a participatory technology, but more importantly, that helped develop me professionally.

A great example of what ILEAD USA Utah can do is Librarians from several universities and the Utah State Archives built a beautiful and still growing digital collection about historical Highway 89. ILEAD projects are not constrained by your walls or your communities, but by your ideas and willingness to explore.

This program allows you to take chances with new ideas in a safe environment. The primary role of each ILEAD Team is to create an innovative program directly addressing an identified user need. Individual participants will join together in diverse teams, including public, school, and academic librarians, as well as specialized library staff members.” This is an amazing opportunity to work on one of the many innovations that are stuck in your brain or in the pipeline. Success will not be measured with a year-end review, but by how much you take away from the program. 

If you are a library manager or in charge of an institution, find ways to get your people involved. There are great ideas among your staff and they are waiting for a forum and opportunity to blossom. You can help your staff develop professionally and be more fulfilled (and that is never a bad thing.) Encourage them to apply. Encourage them to grow.

Creative Libraries Utah’s own Kristen Stehel is the Program Director for ILEAD USA Utah for the Utah State Library. If you have any questions please contact her! [email protected]


By: Dustin Fife, San Juan County Library Director and ULA President-Elect


Mountain West Digital Library


If you are unaware of the Mountain West Digital Library…well…STOP IT! This is one of my favorite online library resources and it is administrated right here in Utah, though it has many partners. We are going to have the opportunity to discuss the Mountain West Digital Library on November 26, 2013 with Director Sandra McIntyre on the podcast. Before that I think everyone should check out this amazing resource and consider how you can use and partner with the MWDL at your institution. Here is a blurb about MWDL from their website:

“The Mountain West Digital Library is a portal to digital resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Hawaii. The MWDL has these goals:

Create a distributed digital repository of significant, rare, and/or unique resources from the libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions of the Mountain West region.

Provide a public portal accessing digital collections about the Mountain West for the benefit of MWDL partners, the scholarly community at large, and the general public.

Expand the digital library vision and environment for the Mountain West region, and support the digital library development efforts of Collections Partners, including colleges, universities, public libraries, school libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, municipalities, counties, state agencies, and other entities as approved by the UALC Council.”

Go to: Mountain West Digital Library

Make sure and report Challenged Books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Creative Libraries Utah and Wanda Mae Huffaker, Librarian for Salt Lake County Library and Chair of the Utah Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, want to make sure librarians are taking the time to report Challenged Books in the state of Utah. The easiest place to report is through ALA:

ALA Challenged Materials

Reporting is essential for protecting the Constitution, intellectual freedom, and the right to read. ALA and ULA have expertise and resources to help librarians through challenges small and large. Too often we only discuss challenges that become media circuses. Truthfully though, challenges happen everyday in the state of Utah formally and informally. If you have any questions contact the ULA Intellectual Freedom Committee

ULA Intellectual Freedom Committe

You can also find them on Facebook by searching for the ULA Intellectual Freedom Committee.

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