Carson Block has led, managed, and supported library technology efforts for more than 25 years. His efforts at his first library position at the Loveland, Colorado Public Library (beginning in 1994) resulted in the first broadband Internet connection and public access computers for the library. The line was also the first major Internet connection for the city government complex of Loveland!
Carson brings a user-centered technological perspective, with an emphasis on solutions that are both transparent and powerful, with some “gee whiz” thrown into the mix.
Carson’s passions include leading technology visioning and planning, creating highly-functional work groups, technical design (including infrastructure, RFID, points of self-service, and more), and project management with a focus on technology solutions that powerfully serve the impacts each library has in the community it serves.
Consulting projects include library construction projects; technology program planning and budgeting; facilities master planning; IT department gap analysis; executive coaching; IT positions (leadership; maker) search services; teaching; workshops for organizational technology visioning; and more. Carson is also teaching an annual library technology management class accredited by the American Library Association.
Carson is an energetic and engaging facilitator, and is a frequent speaker at library conferences. Current presentations include a 2012 solo panel at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) (covered by Time magazine here); a series of eBook webinars for the Public Library Association and an American Library Association-accredited class on Technology Management for library administrators. Carson has also spoken at a number of Ignite presentations, with topics from QR Codes in libraries to another passion – building mountain bikes. Other presentations include RFID; security best practices; project management, and library technology management issues including leadership and technology planning. Carson believes libraries — all the way down to his skivvies.
From 2011-2012, Carson served as President of the Colorado Division of the Public Library Association, and Vice President from 2012-2013. In this leadership capacity, Carson prioritized bringing people together through transparent technology.
As a staff technology consultant for a regional Library Service System in Colorado, Carson worked with public, school, academic, and special libraries of all sizes on a wide variety of efforts ranging from direct technology support to large-scale projects, and was co-director of a statewide, LSTA grant-funded project to automate a consortium of 40 small and mid-sized libraries throughout the state. The project involved securing reliable connectivity, retro-conversion, ILS and database configuration, and support.
Carson served in multiple capacities as a consultant to the Colorado State Library. His consultation with the State Library began with helping libraries understand and comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act through an informational Web site and public speaking. He has also contributed library technology standards established by the Colorado State Library, and digitization best practices for the Collaborative Digitization Program. Most recently, Carson began on a BTOP-funded network assessment project through the State Library, taking him to 11 libraries in rural Colorado to develop recommendations tailored to each library’s unique broadband and networking needs.
In his role as IT Director for the Poudre River Public Library District, Carson managed multiple technology projects and project teams (including network infrastructure overhauls, a comprehensive conversion to RFID, creation of patron self-service kiosks, and technology design and project management for new library construction projects (including the first LEED platinum for interior and second platinum LEED library in the nation), and contributed to the successful effort to form a library district. He led the District’s mobile strategy and studied automated materials handling (AMH) systems. Carson also co-chaired a committee with Colorado State University concerning eBooks and eReaders.
Carson Block has been called “a geek who speaks English” and enjoys acting as a bridge between the worlds of librarians and hard-core technologists. He has a passion to de-mystify technology for the uninitiated, and to help IT professionals understand and support the goals of libraries.
Selected Library Technology Experience
Library IT Consultant
- Library Construction Projects
- IT Department Gap Analysis
- Executive Coaching
- IT Manager Search Services
- Workshops guiding organizational technology visioning
- Instructor for the Certified Public Library Administrator program – Technology Management
- Live presentations (in-person and webinars) on current technology topics, including eBooks, QR Codes and others
IT Director – Poudre River Public Library District (2003 to 2011)
- Successful design and management of major and complex technology projects (including conversion to RFID, design and creation of self-check units, technology design and implementation for new branch library) on time, under budget, and to the highest standards of quality and functionality.
- Leadership and management of project teams.
- Directed migration of technology platforms (including ILS and other servers) and networks to stable, scalable and cost-efficient models returning high value to the Library District.
- Created staffing structure to balance efficiency, IT support, and IT leadership to the district.
- Created and implemented formal Technology Plans to guide District IT efforts.
- Contributed to successful restoration of library technology funding via BOB (Building On Basics) sales tax. The tax provides $750k annually earmarked for library technology.
- Contributed to and provided leadership to successful effort to plan and form the Poudre River Public Library District. Initiative passed by 2/3 margin.
CIPA Consultant – Colorado State Library (2003-2004)
- Created Colorado Filtering Clearinghouse
- Created unique study of filtering software
- Provided information to State Librarian that helped craft Colorado library filtering law.
Technology Consultant – High Plains Regional Library Service System (1999 -2003)
- Project Co-Director, ASCC (Automation System Consortium – Colorado); a $500k grant project to automate small and mid-sized libraries throughout Colorado. Created enduring governance structure for consortium that survived the parent Regional Library Service Systems.
- Provided technological and policy advice and assistance for public, private, and academic libraries in a nine-county region in Northeastern Colorado. Areas include all aspects of Internet connectivity, security, network topology, operating systems, ILS and other automation systems, wiring, and negotiations with ISPs, telecom providers, local governments, and other entities.
- Membership on regional and state technology and library policy committees; mediation; technical analysis/opinion of library-related legislation; website/communications strategy, design, and management; regional federal e-rate consultant; web site design classes; and other related assignments.
Supervisor, Media Services, Loveland Public Library (1994-1999)
- Management of public computing services
- Policy creation and implementation
- Collection development of video, audio book, and compact disc titles
- Service on numerous internal and city-wide policy committees including library management team, executive technology commission, microcomputer board (chair), Internet policies committee, long-range plan committee, etc.
- Created public Internet access/training lab through a diversity of state and local grants
- Computer network design and maintenance
- Technical design for 3500 sq. foot library expansion
Consultant, Colorado Digitization Project: Project management and technical assistance for project participants
Writer: Video Librarian Magazine (regular contributor of video reviews since 1999) and other publications
References available upon request