Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wisconsin Cold

This weekend has been warm -- for this winter. It has actually been double digits (above zero) including almost getting to 40 today.

Earlier in the week was the primary. So many of the national media talked about how Wisconsinites were braving the cold to vote. In Eau Claire, the turn out was almost a record with over 40% coming out to vote. Even my daughter blogged [no link, unless she asks for it] about how ridiculous it was to talk about being surprised at the cold in Wisconsin in the winter.

The locals here are talking about how this is like winters used to be. We have had below average cold and above average snow. Fortunately, here in Eau Claire we have not had the same dumping of snow that the southern part of the state has had. My observation has been that the snow has been pretty dry. The down side is the drifting (look at the first two photos on Flickr). But it is still light. With the cold it has stuck.

More snow is predicted for this week. We'll see!

Another Loss

I earlier mentioned my personal and the CT library community's loss with the death of Jan Gluz. This week I received further bad news with the death of Margaret Paylor. While Margaret did not have the same impact on the Library community, she did have an impact in Wilton. Margaret was the Business Manager at the Wilton Library Association. The obituary summed her career at the library in a simple sentence which very much understated her influence.

Margaret was hired by Dan Wilson in the 1970s as the Business Manager. When Dan left, Yvonne Given became the Library Director, and was succeeded by Joan Foster. I became the Director in 1985. It was my first experience as a Director, and first experience running a 501(c)3 organization. We wrote all our own checks in Wilton. That meant that payroll and all the other bills were paid every other week. That was a lot of checks to write.

Margaret taught me a great deal about cash flow, budgeting, budget negotiations, and dealing with the auditor. The simple sentence in the obituary clearly understates her worth to the organization.

After I left Wilton, Karen Ronald became director and was then succeeded by the current director, Kathy Leeds. Karen was director when Margaret retired, and was nice enough to invite me to that party.

Many times, Margaret and her husband, Bob, would take time in the summer and canoe in the Allagash Wilderness in Northern Maine. I never understood why they kept going back until the summer of 2004 when I had the opportunity. I canoed the length of the Allagash with a group of Boy Scouts. It was a great 70+ mile seven day canoe trip to an incredibly beautiful part of New England.

So in the last two weeks, I have lost the two library business managers who trained me, and taught me a great deal. I owe them a lot. (The good news is that the Business Manager at the Bridgeport Public Library is younger than I and is in great health, and my current Business Manager is also in splendid health.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Primary Day in Wisconsin

Today is Primary Day here. It is bright and sunny, but cold. I'm told it is finally above zero.

Eau Claire has seen a bevy of activity. Barak Obama was in town for a rally on Saturday, Mike Huckabee was here on Monday. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be here Saturday, it got pushed to Monday, and then bad weather caused the very last minute cancellation of her last minute stop (which would have been only a few blocks from where I live!).

I voted on the way to work this morning. There are 40 voting wards in the City of Eau Claire. The polling place near my home hosts two different Wards. When I went in at about 8 am, I was the 72nd person to vote in my ward. Pretty impressive for the polls only having been open one hour. It will be interesting to see what the results will be.

At this morning's City Department Directors meeting there was some interesting discussion of the Police Department's working with the Secret Service over the recent visits. The Obama campaign received high marks for its preparation. (And that is all *I* will say!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What are Your TechNOTs?

Rochelle Hartman has challenged us.

So, I was late to blogging. Actually, I was even late to email. It wasn't until I left Wilton, and started at SCLC that I got my first email account. (That was 13 years ago!) Certainly, my reluctance to email has changed. And I have more or less adopted blogging. However, I'll admit that while I started the year with a "cleaned up" Bloglines account, lately it hovers around 500 unread posts. (Of course, I could drop some of the 156 feeds....but that is down from almost 200!)

However, I think I have two or three IM accounts which I do not use. (I don't think I have logged on in a year or so.) I also have not figured out what "Twitter" is all about. I haven't tried.

I am on Facebook, and even do stuff there periodically, but my LinkdIn and Plaxo accounts are pretty much dormant. There may even be some others which I have signed up for, and have not used for a while. Every once in a while I still find an account of one kind or another which still has an old email (either or or my old Connecticut address.

So that is my confession

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Loss -- Personal and Professional

I have spent part of the last 24 hours or so reeling from the news which I received from a couple of my Connecticut friends/colleagues. The Business Manager for the Connecticut Library Consortium died on Sunday. Prior to that she was at the Southern Connecticut Library Council where I worked from 1995 - 2000. Her name was Jan Gluz. I know that when I started there, she and the rest of the staff were very nervous. Among other things, it was the first time that a man had worked there. Since my Connecticut library experience had all been in a different part of the state, I was also an unknown quantity.

The note which went out on the Connecticut lists (and which Executive Director Chris Bradley kindly sent to me) included some wonderful stories and comments about Jan, I am going to past Chris' words, and then add some of my own:

Jan was someone on whom so many of us in Connecticut's libraryland knew we could always depend. Jan started at the old film co-op in Seymour. … Then there came (and went!) the CLSUs, and Jan went to Hamden for two decades with SCLC, which is where I suspect she developed her signature phrase, "I'll give it a shot!" When CLC appeared from the merger of the CLSUs, Jan gave the job of office manager/bookkeeper a really good shot.

In Jan's office at CLC in Middletown sits a Mac, a PC, and a typewriter, and Jan used them all. (Although she never refused to give any new technology a shot, Jan knew enough not to go unarmed into the night!) She did betray her conservative Midwestern roots by voting Democratic, but Jan was always an old-school money manager, keeping the books and the money safe from the big-spenders like yours truly. People who did business with SCLC and CLC during the Jan years always got paid on time, could always count on their paperwork being correct, and had their inquiries answered not only competently and completely, but friendly-like.

Jan had edited SCLC's newsletter for years, and so quality control for CONNtext also fell to her.

It is the last which became part of Jan's and my enduring relationship. When I started at SCLC, I was scared to death about having to create (almost from scratch) a monthly newsletter. I doubted my writing skills, and had never used anything other than a word processing program to "lay out" a newsletter. Jan was "a doll" in getting me started. In addition, I had to transition from a DOS-based PC to a Mac! What fun we had over the five years of doing the newsletter, including two complete re-designs. We "fought" over commas and other punctuation marks, we discussed grammar at great length, we searched together for appropriate graphics and dingbats, and we talked about type size and fonts. In short, we worked really hard together on the newsletter, and had fun doing it. Jan was probably the best editor I have ever had, as well. She often had me re-write for clarity. I am an incredibly better writer for having had her edit me for five years.

Jan is one of the people who remind me why I do not like to use the term "professional" to designate librarians with degrees. Jan did not have an MLS. However, she was always the consummate professional. She treated members and vendors with equal charm. She made sure that the organization was on firm financial grounds and that the reports balanced to the penny! She was a true professional in every single thing that she did.

When I left, I know there was true sadness, and we saw each other frequently at library related events during the remainder of my time in Connecticut.

There is an obituary and information on the memorial service, which I cannot attend, alas. You can rest assured that on Saturday morning, she will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More on being a professional

Brian Matthews (The Ubiquitous Librarian) had a great post back in early January entitled: Be like Emeril: my response to Steven Bell.

It is so well written I can only say: READ IT!

I am a huge Emeril Lagasse fan, although I do not currently watch the show as much as I used to, it is on at a different time here than it was in the East. But Brian is correct about how the enthusiasm and charisma of Emeril brought The Food Network alive for many people. He set the stage in the same way that Julia Child did years and years ago on public television.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Why am I a Librarian

Well, Walt Crawford did not tag me, but I am going to take up both parts of his challenge. I will answer the question, and also, like my semi-hero Walt, not "tag" anyone. I am again behind in reading my feeds, but so far I have read the posts from Iris, Rikhei, and Steve Lawson.

My answer is short: Miss (Betty) Osborn and Mrs. Carson.

As a child I spent a lot of time at the library and reading. Miss Osborn was the children's librarian, and took an interest in me. She later became the Library Director, and hired me as a page/shelver. The longer I was there, the more responsibilities she gave me. She talked about professional association activities and was active in the New England Library Association. She went to the (now legendary) annual conferences at Wentworth-by-the-Sea.

Mrs. Carson was my supervisor at my financial aid provided job in the library at Brown. I started in the Biological Sciences Library which, in the December of my freshman year moved into a new building with the Physical Sciences Library -- the now Sciences Library. I guess because I was willing to work hard and work more, I got to be part of the team which helped get all the books on the right floors. (We were integrating the collections.)

As I stuck it out over the years, I was given more responsibility. By the end of my four years, I was often in charge of the service desks for the last couple of hours of operation. All my supervisors encouraged me. Mrs. Carson wrote a letter of recommendation when I was applying to schools and for the NELA scholarship (which I did *not* get). I had the opportunity a couple of times to go back and thank her for her support.

I started grad school one week to the day after my graduation from college. From there on it has been a straight shot. Although there were times when I thought about, and even explored, other options. But none of them felt as "right" as librarianship.

Once working in libraries, I knew I wanted to become a Library Director. I wondered why some decisions were made the way they were. I wanted to have some of that control. I also wanted to share why things are the way they are with my staff. So, back in 1985 when I had the opportunity, I jumped and became a director. It was a small enough library that during my tenure there I worked the circ desk to pitch in, and worked regular shifts on the reference desk.

I left that position and took one running a multi-type library organization. It is what has taken me away from direct public service, but that was an incredible learning experience about other types of libraries, and gave me the opportunity (and push) to become involved in professional associations. Since then, I have been the director of large enough libraries that I do not work the desk. Let's face it, while I still have the customer service skills, I no longer have the technical skills, and don't have the time to learn them.

I love being a director. It fits my personality and style. I get to be out in the community talking about the library and what we can do. I do advocacy on a daily basis, and love it. I cannot picture myself doing anything else -- except maybe teaching how to do this.

[Note: I could not get Walt's blog to come up...I got the address for the hot link from the cached version in Yahoo!]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Humor -- Cataloging Humor (or is that an oxymoron)

Thanks to Ryan Deschamps (The Other Librarian) for calling my attention to this humorous take on cataloging (and movie trailers) found on YouTube.

I find this funny. (And will work on learning how to embedd YouTube links!)

Monday, February 04, 2008

ALA Presidential Candidate and Grassroots Advocacy

My friend Camila Alire is running for ALA President. (I know I posted about this here.)

Camila has been thinking about the issue of school libraries and librarians with the situation in Washington State uppermost in her mind. She recently posted some of her thoughts about the grassroots advocacy on her blog. However, they are important enough that I am going to (with her permission) reprint them here.

I use the term grassroots particularly when I refer to library advocacy. But, I never knew the origin of the term. I assumed, correctly, that it had to something to do with grass and its roots. That was about all the assumptions I could make. So, I went online to find more about the origins of the term. Voila, I found what I was looking for. On, grassroots is described as getting beneath the grass and its soil to the roots which are vital in keeping the grass alive, thriving, and green.

This made perfectly good sense to me and fits into the whole concept of grassroots library advocacy. The grassroots effort goes beyond our organized political system. It starts back home. I call it back home advocacy. Case in point is the growing grassroots movement in Spokane, Washington, where three mothers refused to accept the cutting of certified school librarians from the school libraries in the Spokane school district due to budget cuts.

These three moms started the Washington Coalition for School Libraries and Information Technology – WSLit ( ) They are the roots embedded in the soil of their children’s educational success. This group of women, joined by others, have lobbied their state legislators for the introduction of Senate Bill 6380 (House Bill 2773) which would provide Washington school districts with the funding for certified school librarians based on the size of the school districts as one of the components of legislation. Sound familiar? This is somewhat similar to the SKILLS Act that we in ALA have been lobbying for with our U.S. Congress. (The two bills also include allocating $12 per student for school library materials budget.)

This past Friday, the Coalition held a summit – the Washington School Library Media Program Summit – and rally in Olympia, Washington’s state capitol. ALA was well-represented by President Loriene Roy, AASL President, Sara Johns, and Julie Walker, AASL Executive Director, Julie Walker. The event was to garner more support for their grassroots efforts on behalf of school libraries.

As an ALA presidential candidate, I maintain that grassroots library advocacy goes hand-in-hand with back home advocacy. My back home advocacy has two purposes. The first is to engage library supporters at the grassroots level to raise the awareness level of the value of libraries and library employees. These roots include parents, patrons, trustees, students, faculty, frontline librarians/library staff, and library administrators. The second purpose is to implement a nationwide Back Home Advocacy Day at the local level in August when both our state and federal legislators are “back home” in their legislative districts.

Let the Washington Coalition’s roots spread to other states to get organized in efforts to put certified school librarians back in school libraries and to fund school library materials budgets more responsibly. As your ALA president, I would not only support the spreading of the roots for support of school libraries but I would also use this grassroots effort as an excellent model for organizing and implementing a systematic Back Home Advocacy Day.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Librarian Song

Thanks to 800.001 for alerting me to this video on YouTube.

[I tried to embed it using the YouTube link, but that did not work. I may tweak tonight!]