Common Stacks Episode 009: Ben Ide and Communities around Products

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In Episode 9 of Common Stacks, we spoke with Ben Ide, Head of Resource and Metadata Services at the University of Hartford, about the community he's building up around Bibliovation from LibLime. We talked about a wide range of subjects including how to build up a community around a vendor product, why he's so inspired by this particular community and product, and how libraries can work in partnership with vendors to create the products that everyone wants.

This is the website he's building up at https://www.ubu.network/

Remember to join the community that we are building at Community.LibraryLever.com where we are making a space for connections, engagement, and deeper conversations. 
https://Community.LibraryLever.com

Rough Transcript of Episode 009: Ben Ide and Building Community Around a Product

Heather:
Hello, and welcome to the Common Stacks podcast. This is the show that brings together professionals from within the library world, as well as interesting experts from other professions to engage in discussions around the issues affecting libraries, and looking at the ways in which libraries are dispelling the myth of, “well, this is how it's always been done.” 

This is episode nine and we're chatting with Ben Ide. Ben is the head of resource and metadata services at the University of Hartford, and he is leading the community around innovation in LibLime’s Bibliovation. Side note: he's also a tinker and an inventor, and he loves The Princess Bride. 

In this episode, he's talking about community driven, open source development, and how building communities around some of these products and working in partnership with vendors helps to actually improve the product. Speaking of community, we have one. Check out https://community.librarylever.com where we are building up a community of our own, creating a space for libraries and vendors alike to gather, to engage in news, research, acquisitions and network with colleagues. Library Lever is a brand new buying club launching in June of 2022. One of the key goals is to make decisions around vendor contracts based on community feedback so that we are doing the work that member libraries want us to be doing. You can learn more at LibraryLever.com, where we are transforming the way libraries are doing their purchasing.

Ben, I really want to get started, and this is going to lead us in multiple different places, talking about Bibliovation. And, you know, when we last spoke, we talked for about an hour and we covered all kinds of interesting subjects that we could totally do a podcast on. But I think the most interesting thing to start with for the listeners of this show is Bibliovation, and your work there. And we'll have that be a starting point. So can you just give me the short introduction, like you gave me before when we first talked about what you're doing?

Ben:
Sure. So Bibliovation is the traditional sort of ILS, right? So the the software - behind scenes software to operate basic library functions and the what was formally known as online catalog which is now sort of a discovery layer. And my work with Bibliovation, which is a product from the nice folks at LibLime - my work with Bibliovation started years and years ago with a consortium agreement among libraries to sort of turn an open source product into something that could work for academic libraries. 

More...

Now, when it had originally started, it was designed for small consortiums at most, but often it was small private libraries, not even public libraries. So after identifying some folks within the consortium who were subject specialists for each of these different areas, we came up with a bunch of enhancements. That never stopped. We just kept going, and the project morphed more and more over the years as it became closer and closer to what we wanted it to be. And now I think we have something that works super well for academic libraries and for others as well.

Heather:
One of the things about open source software that I have noticed, and it's fantastic to be able to give people the opportunity to make changes and make it public, and everybody can contribute. And it's like this beautiful thing in theory, oftentimes it gets a bit muddled where there's like people not able to communicate what they're, what they need, or like changes, roadmaps, don't always align. Like what, what were some challenges that you saw early on with that? And how has that been handled?

Ben:
Yeah, early on with that problem was at the open source software that we had started with. It it's a worldwide community and there's a lot of very active people in it, and they're doing a fantastic job developing a general product that's going to suit the needs of as many people as possible. When we came on the scene, we saw this as a product that we really wanted to take down a different path. And we did run into some problems with that now, the open source software license that we had guaranteed. And it's the same one that most people use for software, which I believe is GNU. It said that software is a service gave you some sort of outs as far as what you needed to contribute to the rest of the community in the process of being developed. So while some of that was still being contributed to the community, we took that as an opportunity to really focus on the work that we were doing, and to build a product that was although roots and open source was really tailored to a specific collective of folks. So although it's still sort of focused on a community, it's focused on a smaller community than say the world.

Heather:
Gotcha. And I should also say like, you're doing this all as a volunteer -

Ben:
So I have a full time job <laugh> and my job as head of a technical services department and academic library of course brings me very closely in contact with, with Bibliovation. But I recognize the fact that in order for this product to really flourish, we need to get more users together. And this isn't a situation where we need to band together and fight against corporate greed or whatever else. Now we're partners. We're partners with the providers of this, of this software, and what's going to make everything better. What I think is going to make this a stronger product is by having more people working together and sharing their insights on it. So rather than going continuously back and forth  to a company and saying, "oh, here's this problem that we have," or, "do you know any tips about this," that we can talk together about this and share information.

Ben:
So if somebody has a great project that they're working on, they should be able to share that among the users, or if somebody has a question that with a problem that another library might have run into, not necessarily, “Hey, this thing stopped working,” that they can raise this and and get some ideas from other folks. And quite possibly this, this could lead to cooperative arrangements between libraries where we say, okay, well, we notice this one particular thing that we'd really like, let's work this into an enhancement, and then we'll go to LibLime and say, “Okay, we're interested in doing this. What's a feasibility and how much how much could this cost?” And then maybe share those costs.

Heather:
And so I feel like early on, I got a little bit ahead of myself in those first couple questions, because I needed to listen to you. Well, I'm just going back for a second. So what is it about this in specifically that you just light up? Like you just get so excited about this. What, what is it specifically that, that lights you up about this particular project?

Ben:
It's so often with a library with library software like this, right? With an ILS, you are, you're given something, right? So here is your, here is your product. Here are the modules, here are the options. Here's how you use it. Let us know if there's something wrong with it, right. And, and there you go, that's it. So here's your manual. Maybe here's your training, which is there, there's a bonus. 

Heather:
They can charge you extra for that too.

Ben:
Right? Sometimes they do charge you extra for that. And I recognize that that's, that's fine. What sets this apart is that it it's an environment that encourages cooperation. It's an environment that encourages experimentation. The software that we have is, is actually duplicated within a sandbox that each library has access to, but so they've got their own data in it. They can go and they can change. They can change the options, they can change the system settings. Okay. What is it going to look like if we do this you can run a special cataloging project in that you can you can upload a bunch of of subject headings, play around with it and see what it's going to look like. You can also play around with the next version of the software and there, so you can get a feel for what are these new features going to be like?

It also comes along with a sort of I'd have to say it's a responsibility, meaning that this product was developed by a company with the understanding that its customers were going to had buy-in as far as, you know, buy-in is generally the money. But buy-in is also sort of like, we would like you to start using this. We would like you to start experiment with it. We would like you to compare it with the workflows that you have, and then let us know if it falls short. Which to me is really exciting, right? So I have a background as a maker and somebody who enjoys tinkering with things and also enjoys inventing. So for me, it's, it's super exciting to have something that you can basically take the lid off of it to see how it works. And there are aspects of it that you can customize specifically to your library far beyond what you would see in some of the, some of the larger name ILS's so that's, yeah, that's definitely why I light up is because there's so much possibility of this. There's so many things that you can do with it, and there's so much that you can do to shape the future of this ILS as well.

Heather:
And Rob just came on Rob, we were just talking about why Ben gets so lit up about this project. You know, and I, it makes me think there's a number of, kind of open source projects that are around with both academic and public libraries, eBooks, all kinds of stuff. And there's such a depth of knowledge and experience within the library world that, you know, we often think, okay, well, we have to outsource this and we have to outsource that. And there's some things that really make sense to outsource, but then there's some things that are such core parts of what libraries do and what libraries offer and to outsource that to a vendor that maybe has a very different reason for being, or a very different kind of different sort of ethos you know, but doesn't always make sense. And, and so I just, you know, I don't know now I'm just rambling, but like, talk to me about open source and what open source means to you. And, and like, just talk to me about that. <Laugh>

Rob:
This guy or the other guy,

Heather:
I don't know any guys, let's just have a conversation

Ben:
I've pratted along for a bit. So I'm going to pass the ball to Rob,

Rob:
To me, it's very interesting where open source started, where we are today. What's interesting about the library tech space. It's, it's an incubator. You can come into this space and figure out what, what works, doesn't work. You can change it. It's medium size libraries, it's large size libraries. The tech can be everything it needs to be, or can just be enough. And because of that, the sales pressures, and you can't necessarily monetize open source as a traditional asset or intellectual property sold into any market. And it's evolved over time. There's a lot of funding out there. There's a lot of budget money. If we go far back enough, this space started when there wasn't really any SAS providers to post or build or push the code together and come up with a release schedule. And GitHub has evolved so much in the last five years, let alone the last 10 years.

Rob:
So I think the turn in this space is very interesting. It turns fast and libraries have a long term sense of community in sharing. And that to me is also really important is that we don't have to be profitable for a solution. If it's, if it's a product that serves the need of the library and there's five use cases, there doesn't, there doesn't need to be 15 or 20 use cases, and there shouldn't be a premium paid. It really is technology that can be changed to providing just enough of a solution and not over engineering technology.

Ben:
Yeah, I'd have, I'd have to echo what Rob is talking about as well at my library or university of Hartford, we are really driven towards innovation to the point where we'll see what, what a display is for either the bureau graphic record or for the search results and say, gosh, you know, there are a bunch of things that we really like to highlight from this display. And so we found out how to go in and move things around, right? So that's unique to the University of Hartford, right? It's, it's the ability to do this is not necessarily unique, I suppose, to, to ILSs in general, but building ovation makes it that much easier to take the data that's associated with the search results, with the videographic record and using an API grab chunks of that data, push it around to where you want it.

Ben:
And then and then display it to the user and going beyond that, we've even seen the opportunity to, to take things like subject headings and have them cascade out. So rather than doing one click on one subject heading and getting all of, you know, United States Civil War and its effect on you own a particular state, we can scale it back to see, okay, let's talk about other civil wars. So just clicking on that first part will bring up all instances of other civil wars rather than just US history. And it's been, it's been a lot, it's been a lot of fun and a lot of effort. It developed this over the years, but we have a Sterling project, right. We have something that really serves the needs of our users. And I don't know, it's, it's made me really proud of the effort that that we've put into it. And I  see that continue to grow, which is one of the reasons why I definitely  see more of a users group behind this project,

Rob:
You know, and just to jump in here and, and Ben, I think it's safe to say the rough edges of open source have been smoothed out API and technology allows for much better interactions. And for those people that are servicing the cloud and need to take one server out, putting a new server out, that's something you can do at the display level within Bibliovation. And that is really encouraging that this doesn't have to go through large cycles of development and we don't have to go out and wait for months for a release. The market is congested at the ILS level. The larger are looking at a different paradigm, a different business model. The only real viable solutions from a development perspective are either open source products or from small iOS companies that can develop quickly and can put solutions on the marketplace and have a hybrid product as well. And at the end of the day, librarians benefit from controlling their technology versus overpaying for their,

Ben:
Yeah, and, and I agree I hesitate to call ion open source, although it's got very strong, open source roots, and there's still a community working to develop it. It really has it it's moved so far into gosh, it makes me sound like we're like, we're getting elitist, but we're not, it's moved so far into a community group that it's, it's difficult to say that this is something that belongs to the world. I mean, it's open to the world. But really it's driven by almost like a membership.

Rob:
And I think that's a really valid point, the sides politicized open source early, and it was a drum that beat loud. And then I think it's no longer beating as strong. If we're really looking at a fresh start, the, the, the idea of building a community around the product there's costs and, and modest, and those can be covered. But if the long term goal is finding the value again, that we saw years ago were bringing people together and really excited about solving problems. We also have to leave this belief that hybrid solutions or community solutions don't have to lean into purely this, or purely that it should be defined by the community that, that stands up.

Heather:
And how are you finding this, you know, building these user groups and, and the, how active is this becoming? How, what, what are you doing to build this community? How's that working out? How's that working out for you? <Laugh>,

Ben:
It's difficult. As I mentioned before, I've got a full-time job. <Laugh>, this could easily be a part-time or a full-time job in and of itself. So I'm taking smaller steps towards doing it. My, my, the first folks that I've reached out to are are the the people who are still involved in that the, the, the consortium group that kicked it off, although we're not, we're no longer going to be under the umbrella of that a group, which is one of the reasons why I'm pushing so hard for this. I  start with them. I want, I want them to con to, to know that they are still part of this family of users, of biblical ation users. And then I'm also working with with a vendor with with Liveline to, to reach out to their other customers their their groups of library consortia out in the United States, there are also newer users in in some agencies that serve government work. And there's a currently it's taking off in, in the US military, and, and it's, it's not, it's, it's the part of the library that serves military families and service members. And think of it as public libraries, specifically for the people who need it most. And I  reach out to them as well.

Rob:
Community building is exciting. It's a challenging for us, as we figure out what's the right recipe between a group that's young, a group that's active, inactive, it, it takes effort and energy and finding the right people to, to participate in the community. May maybe Ben, you could bring in international users of Biley ovation. They I've learned in just a matter of three or four months that the information community is, is international. I've talked to companies that are hybrid that they're us and European based, and maybe that's phase two of your community and how your community grows getting the right people, getting people that voice their opinion, and also finding ways to stimulate those opinions and influencing those opinions. So we're eager to help Ben there you,

Ben:
Yeah. Good, great. And I'm, I'm, I'm eager for that help as well. I mean, the, the, the further back you step from this thing, the, the more circumspect you can be and the more the more great ideas you can take in, I mean, I originally thought, no, this is, I need to protect, you know, academic users of this. We, you to make sure that we're, this is driven towards places that can do, you know, hourly circulation loans to support reserves and overnight stuff and and whatnot. But no, the more, the more I back up, the more I see that there's commonality across libraries and non-library groups whether it's in archives or historical society or a special library that supports corporate interests. Yeah, absolutely. So international, yes. I'll brush up on my French.

Rob:
Yeah. The time the time zones were, there are difficult. We, Heather and I were on a very interesting call the other day, where we had somebody in California, somebody in New York and somebody in Spain. And that was, that was, I didn't know how to have that conversation. I felt like I was in a back back to the future movie and I kept on going on that street showing up in a different world. But the, in international, discussion's interesting, more and more webinars. You go to happen at 8:00 PM at night, 9:00 PM at night eight in the morning, six in the morning, we've become an international community. That's that's I guess the point that I'm going for,

Heather:
I'm still going back to how you're doing this. Are you just doing this, like completely, what kind of support are you getting from LibLime? Like, how is that going?

Ben:
I'm in contact with with the president of LibLime, Patrick Jones. I make sure first and foremost, and I'm not stepping on any toes. I really view this as a partnership. And I'm also using him as a, as a contact. He's, he's gotta be my introduction to to the the military operations. He's going to be my introduction to the the NGO library users. Many of whom have driven strong innovation within Bibliovation. So yeah, and you, it, it would be ridiculous to try and butt heads with your, with your vendor. And, and I, I say this as somebody who has been absolutely ridiculous in the past for having butted heads with, with vendors, but sometimes you get into the situation where you really, you feel as though you offer hours of work to come up with a well reasoned idea, you know, some solution to fix an outstanding problem that, you know, other people are, are facing as well.

Ben:
And you really just get the feeling that there's some billionaire sitting behind a desk, who's looking at what you wrote out and then sticking his gum onto it and throwing it away. It, it, it, but I don't get that feeling with these, with these folks. Yes. Not every single idea that I come up with is something that somebody's going to act on, nor should it be, because this is a community and not every idea I have is great. And I rely on the opinions of other people to inform me that no, Ben, you're kind of going the wrong way on this. So well, yeah, it's a partnership. Oh, you know, I'm sorry. So yeah, it's a partnership. 

Rob:
I have a question and it's a question that I think you're situated really well to answer. I never got a clear understanding of why it's so expensive to migrate a library from one system to another. I'm not going to use the analogy of their, their wires in the wall, their wires. So you take off a switch and you put in a, and put in a switch. Can you explain a little why there's this constant reinforcement of either the cost of migration or the effort of migration? Aren't we talking about standard tech here? I mean, how much of this is really customized, how difficult and how heavy of a loaded it is to migrate log,

Ben:
You know, Rob I'm glad you started off with the analogy of wiring the walls, right? Because we all have the point of view. I know there are a couple of electricians who are listening to me. I am going to honor you in a minute, electrician. So please stand by. We all have this notion that the wiring of the walls supports whatever we plug into it. And yes, right. It does. But when you get to the point where you need to address what's in the walls, right. Let's say you need to put in, oh God, we're going to just keep going with this analogy anyways. All right. I'm sold. I bought into it when you get to things like upgrading your circuit panel, right. That's when you find out just what the wiring is inside the walls. Right. Are we talking about something modern and standard, or are we talking about something that's, you know, aluminum wires, or are we talking about the the, the fabric wrapped things that are on little ceramic insulators,

Rob:
Those nodes -

Ben:
Right? Yeah. Exact exactly. So, and the electricians, that was your, that was your call out. That was your shout out. And, and this is also what you can see with ILS, right? You, you can, you can see the problem with migrating from one system to another, by not having that commonality of, you know, the modern wiring in the walls. I've worked at a couple of different libraries and every, every place I've worked, I was involved in a system migration, a big, hairy deal of system migrations, and quite possibly the biggest one that I that I was involved with was at Harvard University, where they switched from HOLLIS, which was a home grown system based on, you know, dumb terminals, right. You get two colors on the screen, you get black and and amber and it's based on Telnet and you need to log in with a user's name and a password.

Ben
Okay. Now it sounds like I'm talking about something from the 1970s or the 1980s. Yes, it's true. I am talking about something from the 1970s, but I was working there in the two thousands. And so the system that they needed to move to needed to support needed to work in windows needed to work in browsers. My coworkers didn't even have PCs on their desks. They all had dumb terminals. Right. So in order to get to the point where we could start talking about, okay, I'm going to train you on these things. I'm going to show you what the options are. I'm going to show you how to work with your biblical garage records. I'm going to show you how you can continue to do your work. I had to teach them how to use a mouse. Yeah. Let that go ahead and sink in.

Ben:
And, and these were the, these were the best, right? These, these I work with absolutely fantastic people. And the folks that I work with at Harvard were absolutely wonderful, but gosh, the anxiety that went into it, right, and this is a perfect example, the wiring of the walls was just not up to standard. Right. on top of this, you can also move to an ILS that that is based on that old wire, right? You can move to an ILS that has the kind of software its core that hasn't really changed since it was written in the eighties. Where they've just added layer and layer and layer and layer on top of it to make it look and operate the way they needed to at the, at the, at the surface. And sure, once you're there, you're, you are displaying the data that you should in the way that you should do it.

Ben:
But what did you have to do behind the scenes in order to get that data process so they can display? Yeah. It all starts with MARC and I can tell you about the history of MARC, if you really want to. That's another example of sausage being sausage, being extruded. But there are an awful lot of systems that just can't deal with MARC data in the way that we have come to we've come to think of it. So in a sense, you need to get all your data together and present it to them in the way that they can ingest it. And then magic happens behind the scenes and then your data gets displayed. And then from that point forward, you're like, okay, here's the interface that you're going to use on a regular basis to get this up. So the, the migrations, the reason why they're so painful is because of this process, because of looking at the wire inside the walls and getting what you  plug in to operate the way that it should.

Rob:
Yeah, no, that's a, that's a great explanation of, I thought it was wires, but it's not, it's a different stack. It's a different challenge. It reminds me of when early on, we would try to go sell streaming audio collections, and we would go into school libraries and guess what? They didn't have sound cards, speakers. And it's interesting how tech is moving so quickly. And we forget that just some of the basics sometimes are, are overlooked and misplaced. Ben, how is, how is the universe around other services, whether they're IRS DRS, you know, research tools RDM, how does that factor into the Bibliovation community? Is, is it open with APIs? If somebody has a solution over here I'm assuming it all works well within Bibliovatoin?

Ben:
There are a lot of things that work pretty well with it. And we are experimenting more and more and more with the APIs that we have right now. We're trying, we're still trying to get their data operate in ways that we want it to. And the next phase that I  move to is taking somebody else's data and in incorporate it into the display, we know how to paint the screen with whatever information that we want. We know that we can do it via APIs. If somebody else's data is also open, then there's, there's no reason why we can't go and grab that and then paint our screens, whatever that, whatever that information is an example would be, say Wikipedia, where we can go and grab some information. And so if if there's a subject heading within a videographic record, we can have like a little link to it, you know, or a little question mark next to it, where you can click on it and, or just hover over it and get that get that display to pop up. I ran, this is, this is another great example of what I said earlier, which is I come up with these ideas and I, I hand them out to a group and they give me feedback on this. And the other academic librarian said, yeah, no, not Wikipedia I'm yeah, but it's a good in no, no, no, no, no. You want people to dive a little deeper than, than the

Rob:
Wiley just make a substantial commitment of content to Wikipedia. We should take, we should take a look at that. I think if we look at the data of Wikipedia and the metrics one should not ignore what Wikipedia, garners attention wise, it's, it's one of these giant resources that needs more inclusion than finger point.

Ben:
I completely agree. I also believe that Wikipedia is a great place to start first and foremost. And if you're doing, if you're doing light level research, this start and, and there, right. So you've built an understanding of what you wanted to learn about if you're going to do a deep dive that's where people start to, you know, sort of wrinkle their nose and make sure that you went to scholarly academic sources, but you're right. Sure. Maybe that's, maybe there's a little bit of snobbery there. I don't think so, but you know, if we can do it with API data from there, then we could do it with API data from someplace else. And thank you for mentioning the, the Wiley bit, and maybe I can go back to to that community and say, yeah, but Wiley so -

Rob:
It is interesting how the value in information is shifting and the mindset of what is a good, what is a solution? What's a scholarly solution is all shifting. I think as data and metrics are, are moving people to see the value in products and services that they didn't recognize prior. It's, it's exciting to see how these cycles of acceptance are, are, are changing. And where, where do you see community bend when it comes to raising funds or, or grant money? Do, do you think that that a community could, could kind of source finding a few hours from this library a few hours from that library in submitting grant applications to fund some of the Bibliovation development

Ben:
There's it's great to be able to, and I'm glad you phrased this in the, in the form of time rather than simply money. Because sometimes, sometimes that's what we can invest, right? It, it, it's, it's it's not going to be a big deal for you to put a couple of hours of effort into this. Even though if you compare the amount of time effort that you're putting into it and equate it to dollar effort that you're putting into it, then you start to realize just how much you're racking up as far as a bill is concerned. But it seems to be a little bit easier to go to colleagues and say, Hey, would you be interested in taking a look at this new acquisitions feature? And they're like, okay, sure. And they'll go, and they'll, they'll do a few hours of testing on it and then come back and say, all right, well, here are the changes.

Ben:
Here are the things that that we notice of improvements. Here are some of those, here are some of the rough spots that you need to be aware of and then make a cooperative arrangement with somebody else saying, okay, now we checked the AC we checked the acquisitions client. Could you go and run some circulation transactions on it, where the problem gets, and, and this is, this is from a point of view, right? Because it, it seems like the amount of time that you can put in, nobody really stiffens up too much, but when you start saying, okay, we have this great idea for an enhancement, and if we all contribute, you know $2,000 to this, and that's when people start to really tighten up. So the idea of going and looking for grants for this is a good idea.

Ben:
One of the great things about being involved in in a consortium and a, in a consortium relationship with other libraries is that when we bought in, through that part of the money that we were contributing, went to a fund for enhancements. So the money was there, right. And that was from day one, right. That was the understanding. Here's your bill. Your bill includes this money for enhancements. Okay. Awesome. And, and looking at that initial bill, it was still way cheaper than the legacy stuff that we had been using. So people were, you know, jumping up and down really excited about it. Do you take credit cards? Can you take it now? But now moving away from this, now we're going to have to get to the point where, okay, alright. Maybe your bill isn't quite as high as it used to be, but you have to come up with this additional money if you  get an enhancement done. And so it, it's going to be that much more difficult to get that through. And here's hoping that whatever this this union of users turns out to be we'll be able to, we'll be able to facilitate that.

Rob:
I think there's creative ways where we could sponsor events and maybe there's community fees. And that community fee is really just a development contribution. Modeling it in a contemporary in a new way is exciting. It's challenging, but that consistent funding is, is really valuable. And, and I think we've seen now what happens when that funding gets shuttle?

Ben:
I think you're right. And flipping the model, I think is definitely going to help. I, if we view this as more of, of a community it, it becomes easier to be part of this community by knowing that your, your, your Joiner's fee goes to real, tangible value, something that you can go to your director, you can go to your provost, you go to your town manager and say, okay, here's what we're getting from joining this community. It's going to be tangible. These are the improvements that we're going to be. This is how it's, how it's going to make our lives better.

Rob:
Good stuff. Ben, I think we have to get, get you guys incorporated as a nonprofit pretty quickly to, to, to carry that forward. And, and however, that happens, we're here to help and support, and it's exciting to sometimes step back to stand it back up again and evaluate what was right and what was part of the process, but not part of the value strip. And it's exciting to see passion again and excitement about engaging libraries, where everybody's tired from COVID, but we all need some wins.

Ben:
Good. I agree. There's nothing like looking at your hard work and finding something shiny in it to really spark that, that passion again,

Heather:
Ben, before we go, I just  ask you about your invention, because you told me a great story about your inventing. So can you tell me that -

Ben:
Oh gosh, what now? 

Heather:
It was the invention. It was the, the like science fair, but the invention fair.

Ben:

Oh, right. So University of Hartford is, is in Connecticut. And, and Connecticut has this great thing called the Invention Convention. And I was a volunteer for it and in, and in my town I led a group, an, an after school group based on, I had already been teaching science as a volunteer and this after school group, and we just rolled it into part of the Connecticut Invention Convention. And what we would do is to think of this as a science fair, but for innovation. Right. and what this involved is getting every single kid to come up with their own idea to solve a problem. Right. We don't go to them and say, come up with an invention. We go to them and say, look at the problems around you, pick one, and then we're going to come up with a solution.

Ben:
And so that's what they would do. And, and sometimes they would come back and they would say, oh, you know, our, our boots fill up with snow and they get soaked and it takes a long time for them to dry out. And so they, they would come up with some way of drying out the boots or doing boot warmers sometimes. Sometimes kids would come back and say, you know my my aunt or my mom is is going through chemotherapy. And there's, there's a problem with that believe it or not hiccups, where, where the throat sort gets burned out and and hiccups just exacerbate that. So the, the problem is how do we, how do we fight hiccups? And through all of these things, taking a look at the problem, and then coming up with ideas, with solutions to fix those things, that's where the innovation takes place.

Ben:
And the old adage fail frequently fail often fail fast, fail often. That's how you build a really successful invention. And so that's what the idea was to move this stuff forward by the way, there, there was actually a product that a kid in Connecticut came up with called hick pops. I believe, I don't know if it's still on the market, but it was a combination of apple cider or vinegar, powdered sugar pressed into a lollipop because this is what she had looked at for hiccup remedies. And after extensive testing of all these different methods of treating hiccups, that's what she came up with.

Heather:
That is amazing. That's awesome.

Ben:
Very exciting. Yeah. I, it's a, it's thrilling to be part of it. And it's, and it's also something that teaches kids, something that I think adults need to know too, which is you don't need to be, you know, the, the doc brown inventor, right? You don't need to have the mad scientist lab. You don't need to be you know, have your own corporation or, or part of a think tank in order to come up with inventions, you can make little things within your own life to make your life better.

Heather:
Very inspirational. I think we need to end on that note cuz I don't think it's going to get better than that right now. Thank you, Ben, for taking the time to chat with us about all of this great stuff.

Ben:
My pleasure entirely. Thank you so much. Great.

Heather:
Oh, where can people, if people are interested in participating with you, where can they find out more?

Ben:
Right. So as soon as I get the website up and going I have picked out a name for this for this group. I did not  call it a users group because the initialisms wouldn't work out with Bibliovation. So I wanted to create a union. So this is the Union of Bibliovation users or UBU and the website is going to be ubu.network. So not NT, but the entire word, NETWORK written down. So UBU.Network,

Heather:
ubu.network

Ben:
UBU. And, and I'm really hoping that I get this up and written, but Hey, again, there's some other stuff I need to take care of too.

Heather:
<Laugh> yeah. Yeah. Thank you Ben, for taking the time. I appreciate it.

Ben:
My pleasure. Thank you.

Heather:

Thanks to Ben for taking the time out of his day to share his insights and his experiences and thanks to you for listening, make sure you subscribe. So you never miss an episode, leave a rating where you're listening to this. If you like the show and remember to join our brand new community, where you can grow with us and engage in these discussions, networking and engaging conversations that will move libraries forward. Check the show notes at LibraryLever.com for the link. We will talk with you again soon. Bye bye.

About the author 

Heather Teysko

Heather Teysko is head of community and engagement for Library Lever, and she loves running the Common Stacks Podcast. She's been in Library Land for close to 20 years, with a career that has focused on technology and ebooks. She is also passionate about history, having built a website on Colonial American history in 1998 that got to #1 on Yahoo (when that was a thing) has been podcasting on Tudor England since 2009, and her podcast The Renaissance English History Podcast has a social following of over 50,000 people. She has published several books including Sideways and Backwards: a Novel of Time Travel and Self Discovery, which was negatively compared to Outlander in several Amazon reviews, despite the fact that it is set in a completely different time period, but the comparison still feels like an honor.
You can follow her on twitter @teysko.

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