Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If anyone still reads this, you may have noticed that my posting frequency has declined quite a bit. Only 37 posts in the first ten months of the year. Of those, 4 were vacation notes in July, 3 were "Library Day in the Life" posts (2 for round 6, one for round 7), and 7 were related to ALA (midwinter, annual, and the LITA "kerfluffle").

While one of the recent uses has been for me to track some interesting blog posts from others (by including links here), I am considering a hiatus. Most of the posts during this calendar year (12 of 20) were collections of links. That is an average of "only" one per week for the non-special topics.

So, maybe I no longer have much to say. Or maybe I don't have the time and burning desire to say it. How long long will the hiatus last? I don't know.

Permanent death? Maybe, we will see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Early September Links, volume 2

Well, here is the second part, and my list of unread posts in Google Reader is finally back to zero! Now to tackle the work email in-box, where I keep getting automatically generated "mailbox full" notes!

Iris Jastram always writes thoughtful pieces. (Often they are based in her real-life experiences.) She recently posted about her philosophy of librarianship. It is well worth reading, it notes the important role of librarian (especially reference librarian) as generalist. In fact, it makes me think that once upon a time when I was part of a team doing book selection, we made it a point to include one of the support staff who worked the circulation desk (and handled ILL). She brought some of that real-world grounding to our work.

One of the library humor blogs on my list is obnoxious librarian from hades. Its subtitle is : a satirical look at life in a large bureaucracy. One of the more recent posts, while posted as a satire, really pegs the state of e-books and libraries today.

I mentioned here that Abigail Goden is doing a series of "Data Friday" posts which continue this week. The most recent post talks about a book published in the UK (and soon to be published here) about access to web data.

Letters to a Young Librarian has a recent post by a law firm librarian talking about professional development. (This is also falls into my category of "continuous education.") Here is a key "take-away" quote:
It is true that you get out of professional development what you put into it. Anything that you can use to further your career, enhance your skills, or support learning and progress in librarianship counts as professional development.
There were a couple of posts about mobile apps and libraries. First from Bill Drew who casts his headline as either/or between mobile apps and mobile web sites. It turns out that he refers to two separate articles in Computers in Libraries each of which tackles one of the two topics. Based on his comments, the web sites will be easier to produce in the short run. I wonder how long the "apps" portion will be relevant.

Aaron Tay has a fairly long post about mobile friendly databases being offered by libraries. He notes both of the trends talked about by Bill, but focuses on database access as provided by our vendors (i.e. not library created). Because he is a librarian in Singapore, he takes a (literally) more global view than do many other bloggers I read.

Librarians are on strike at the University of Western Ontario. The author (Mita) blogs library issues at New Jack Librarian. She has an interesting philosophical take on information, copyright, the library's role, and how the university should be treating its librarians. (I will confess, while I have heard about the strike, I am not very well informed on the issues...)

Rory Litwin is continuing Library Juice and Library Juice press, but he has returned to school for a PhD, and has started a new blog, Non-Robots and Their World. One of his recent posts is about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and has the great title
Feeling and not feeling.

Finally, there are a series of four posts from Eric Hellman (I have mentioned him before). I am going to list them and comment in the order of chronological appearance:
  1. The first is on the value of a book. The post includes graphs and some sophisticated economic analysis. I'll probably have to read it a couple more times to really understand it.
  2. The second is about his new venture which is the process of raising money to make creative-commons licensed ebook editions of the books ... so that everyone, everywhere can read them.
  3. The third reflects on the sense of smell. I have often heard that it is the most powerful of the senses in memory recall. I have certainly experienced that in my life, times when just an odor brings back a very strong, vivid memory. One of my favorite quotes is: "When we smell a book all of these feelings resonate across time and they comfort us."
  4. Finally, Eric posted about orphan works and finding the true copyright holder. He noted that the Hathi Trust had proposed posting some orphan works. The Authors Guild then sued them. As part of their prep, the Authors Guild used its membership (and blog readership) to identify many of the authors not found by Hathi Trust. Eric's post is full of links.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unintended Consequences/Emergency Preparations

I had an "A-HA!" moment recently.

I was at a mandatory training at MPOW where we were going over the procedures for evacuating the building. Always important to do this, and October is Fire Safety Month (or something like that) when a lot of fire drills take place.

One of the unintended consequences of loosing staff, is that there are fewer people in the building, and there may be parts of the building which used to have staff present, but no longer do. That happened at MPOW, so some of the evacuation plans have now been tweaked to make sure that we do get everyone safely out of the building.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Early September Links, volume 1

I started this post thinking it would be a short one with a few is now turning into a two-part post. Here is "volume one."

First some humor. While most librarians know about Unshelved (along with its computer programing cousin/half-brother Not Invented Here), one of my favorite library humor sources is Shelf Check. It has not been as frequent of late, but the latest is a great one.

LISnews alerted me some time ago to the wonderful book based paper sculptures which are popping up (literally) in libraries around Scotland. It started in March, and the most recent (that I have learned about) appeared at the end of August. Here is a blog post which has photos and descriptions of all the items which have been reported so far. In the comments there is speculation as to who the creator is.

There is a longer web version (and shorter print version) about pricing of database packages from academic publishers (mostly). Commonly it is referred to as "the Big Deal." Richard Poynderhas a good explanation and history. In a lot of ways the sub-title says it all: Not Price But Cost.

I don't remember where I picked this up, and I have always had a good relationship with IT folks, but I love the headline: Why IT pros should be more like librarians. One of the points that the article makes is about the ability to communicate clearly about what is happening. I'll say that in my present place of work (MPOW), the folks in IT respond quickly to requests, and do keep us informed about what is happening.

Stephen Abram has been blogging for just about as long as I have. [He started his blog, two days after I started this one! He is much more consistent and prolific, though.] Stephen picks up stuff all over, and shares it willingly. Two recent posts struck me:
  1. The first concerns the use of location based services. Stephen is a huge fan, I am not as sure about that. However, it does have implications for library services and as he notes: "libraries have branches and multiple locations because geography is important for face-to-face service, community and learning. That’s one reason why I track location based services so much." And later he says: "I believe that geo-based web services and products will be essential to library strategies in the future." Both of those are statements with which I agree.
  2. The second post covers an important topic and has an insightful title: Preparation for Living in a Public World. He wrote the post for the AASL Banned Sites project. As you might expect, he is against schools blocking specific technologies, and suggests that students would be better served if schools taught appropriate sharing behavior. I encourage you to read his post.
To follow up on the first of the two items immediately above, smartphones and e-books have been a continuing topic of interest. My friend Michelle Boule writing for ALA Techsource talked about what the growth in smartphone use means for libraries, including library web sites. A good article if you missed it.

This post reminds me of why we gather statistics. And the title says it all "Assessment isn’t about the data, it’s about the results." I think, for me, there is another important aspect of assessment which is buried in Jenica's post, and that is the value of anecdotal evidence.

David Lee King has a great recent post about the importance of relationship building for libraries (as institutions). It is a great concept, one which I always tried to implement (including in the days before social networking technology). It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: You can never have too many friends!

Abigail Goden who used to work for my friend Rochelle in LaCrosse has started a series in her blog Hedgehog Librarian, called "Data Tidbits." It has been appearing regularly on Fridays. The first one was August 12, and as the name suggests, it is a mish-mash of items. (In this one she suggests following data "queen" Dorothea Salvo on Twitter....I loved reading her blogs, I guess I am going to have to go back to Twitter.) Both the first and the second ones include data jobs as part of the post. Both the third and the fourth ones continue in the same vein. Well worth following.

"I quite like using the word 'assets' with reference to library collections." This is the introductory sentence of a post by Lorcan Dempsey. I guess it is my MBA education and activity in the business part of the library that I have always thought of them as assets in the accounting sense. However, Lorcan goes on to say "We tend to think of assets in positive terms, as things that are valuable." I think that may be the more important part of his message.

I am not sure where I first picked up on Jennifer Meyer's blog. She is a (the?) librarian at a for-profit college. Her blog is called careercollegelibrary. She posted in a series about some of the perspective from that kind of institution. I was put off a little bit because in the first one, she uses "perspective" when she means "prospective." She does focus on the library's potential role in recruiting students. In her second post, she focuses on retention. This is especially important as higher ed institutions are being judged on graduation rates, and retention is what is needed to keep that rate high. Her third post focuses on the final phase of higher ed, critically important to for-profit institutions and one where they have been most criticized, placement. It is a slightly different take on the world, and I think a blog worth following.

Also in the nitty-gritty of the library world, Michelle McLean (Connecting Librarian) talks recently about some of the mechanics of information flow. It is certainly worth a read as you try to manage organizational blogging, tweeting, and other social networking activities.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On Gorman

First about my relationship with Michael Gorman. I first met him when I started Library School at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in June 1975. He was teaching the introductory class for the library school at the end of his first stint in the US. Later, our paths crossed occasionally at ALA, including on ALA Council. At the Midwinter Meeting in 2003, I was nominated for election to the ALA Executive Board. Michael Gorman was nominated from the floor. When we gave our speeches to Council (the extent of our "campaigns"), I was assigned to sit at the end of the table on the podium, with Michael Gorman next to me. Thank goodness I got to speak first!

Along with Jim Rettig, we were both elected to the ALA Executive Board. The three of us began our service at the end of the ALA Annual Conference in Toronto. It was a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun. It was during our three year terms that Michael ran for, and won election to serve as the ALA President in 2005/06. So, at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans (2006), he ended his term as ALA President as Jim Rettig and I ended our terms on the ALA Executive Board. (And for those who don't know Jim, he ran for, and won election, as ALA President in 2007, serving as President in 2007/8.)

So, why am I blathering on about Gorman? I just finished reading Broken Pieces: A Library Life, 1941-1978. It is his autobiography. I found it fascinating, partly because I know him. It is also very personal and revealing about some of the mental health issues which he faced as he began his library career.

Cataloguers (especially those of a "certain age") will find the discussion on the production of AACR2 (Ango-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition) most enlightening.

As is his style, he is very forthright about his opinions. In this book, most of those opinions related to cataloging issues, from his evaluation of the older rules (pre-AACR) used in both the US and UK, as well as the proposal for a whole new scheme for cataloging methods.

He notes that AACR2 probably should not have been called the second edition, but been given a whole new name. Based on what I read in his work, I think I agree. I also agree with his comments about "tagging" versus the controlled vocabulary offered by Library of Congress Subject Headings (even with the shortcomings of LCSH).

It will be interesting to see what happens in the cataloging world. I feel better prepared to think about it and talk about it.

I think the book is well worth the time to read, even if you do not personally know Michael Gorman.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Statistic -- Oh, and license plates

Well, I was bold enough in my last post to observe about the number of cars on the side of the road. Last Friday night, I became one of them.

For a couple weeks, off and on, the tire pressure warning light would come on in my car. One tire seemed to lose air (rear, passenger side). I'd fill it up and it would be good for a week or more. I had done this the weekend before, and on Friday morning, the light came on. I didn't think too much, and after work headed out to the Interstate (about 1/2 mile). As I accelerated up the ramp, the car sounded different. But with sort of heavy traffic, it was hard to pull over. About a mile and a half, there was a safe spot, on the side of the road, and it was even in the shade. I pulled out the car battery-powered tire pump and plugged it in.

After about 10 minutes, nothing had changed, and I decided it was time to pull out the spare. First I had to grab the book and see where the jack went, and had to get some of the items stored in the trunk into the back seat. Other than a moment of panic when I could not find the special nut for the "anti-theft" device on the tire, it went smoothly. Of course, I had just lowered the car, and was getting ready to do the final tightening of the nuts when the Motorist Assistance Patrol van arrived. So, about 45 minutes later, I was back on the road.

Only to get to LaPlace, where despite the lack of warning on the traffic signs, traffic was backed up all along the 12 mile bridge. I don't know what the problem was, but after a long, hard, stop-and-go drive, I got off as soon as I could. It was traffic for the Saints game.

Oh, one thing I have noticed is that you can see a large variety of license plates here. In addition to the usual neighboring states (Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi), and other nearby states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia), I recently passed a car with plates from Alaska. It is not uncommon to see other Midwest/Mississippi River state plates (Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota). I think that it is the schools (universities) that attract folks from New York, Connecticut, Washington, California, Colorado, New Jersey. Some day I'll get ambitious (organized?) and track them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections on Driving

With the Library Day in the Life project over, perhaps I have been in a more reflective mood than I have been in a while.

Perhaps too, for those who actually look at the sidebar to this, and not just the feed, I have been listening more to the radio (generally NPR) as I commute to and from work.

I have been reflecting on some of the similarities and differences in my drive now, and drives I have done in the past. The beginning and end of each drive is city driving. Not much to say about that, it is what it is. In Baton Rouge they are doing a project to widen parts of I-10 between the I-10/I-12 split and the edge of the city. It seems to me that it is being done in a somewhat haphazard way, with some parts having work completed, but not being able to be connected to other parts. And, frankly, there is a stretch where the new road surface is a foot or more above the currently used surface, and I wonder how that will be resolved.

The parts between the cities vary between suburban and very rural. Some of the drive is literally swamp (Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area).

One thing I noticed some time ago, I don't see much roadkill along the highway. Once in a while there is a dead armadillo. In a huge change from both Wisconsin and Connecticut, I have never seen a dead deer by the side of the road. On the other hand, "dead" vehicles are there all the time. In the 80 mile trip, there are an average of about 8 vehicles on the side of the road. Most have one tire off. Some remain there for extended periods of time (as in, more than a week).

One thing I know from experience, in Connecticut, they don't let cars sit there very long. Deer can be there for a while, but cars no. I don't have a strong recollection of vehicles along the road in the Upper Midwest where I lived, but there were often deer, turkeys, even the odd coyote or wolf.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Panama Vaction Pics I am a month late...but I finally got approval from "she who must be obeyed" and there are now pictures from our vacation in Panama which have been posted here, on Flickr.

Because I am now used to getting up very 5 am, there are a whole series of sunrise photos. The fact that our room faced the mountains to the East is another factor.

So here they are (including the coffee plantation tour).

I am disappointed at the lack of granularity for the mapping of places outside the US in Flickr. For US locations you can get to the street level. For Panama, at least, at best you could get city areas...roughly. Mind you, Rancho de Caldera is out in the boonies, but even the level of detail for Boquete is fairly "gross."


Friday, July 29, 2011

Library Day in the Life Project - Round 7

Bobbie Newman has been diligently convincing library bloggers to participate in the Library Day in the Life Project, semi-annually, where we each talk about what it is really like to be a working librarian. This is Round 7. Over 200 librarians are participating this time! What a resource.

This is my second time participating. Last time there were two posts. The first covered Monday, and then there was a summary post for the rest of the week.

Post-ALA, it has rained a fair amount. The weekend was quite rainy. Monday was, well Monday. One of the reference staff is out for some surgery this week, and that went well for her. That also means that the remaining three of us are spending more time than usual, staffing the two public service desks. One nice aspect of Monday was that, since my wife was off of work, she drove to Baton Rouge, and we got to have lunch together! Doesn't happen very often any more. Much of the rest of the day was either on the desk, or dealing with email.

Tuesday, I was motivated to get moving (for some reason), and it was "gas day" for me. [Since I drive 80 miles, each way, every day, I get gasoline in the car every other work day, or about every 320 miles or so. What a racket.] In addition to being on the desk, today's activities included my first meeting as the Volunteer Coordinator for the book festival held at the end of October. I learned even more about what is expected, and have now started with a number of new tasks. The afternoon was pretty quiet, with a fair amount of desk time.

Wednesday dawned. This was the first of three days in a row (two of them open to the public), when there are only two of us in to staff the two desks. That means that except for lunch and the occasional "comfort break," we are both on the desk all the time we are at work. It was pretty slow for me in the morning, and I was able to catch up on assorted professional reading. The highlight of the day was an interesting reference question. The patron was looking for information on “nazzorites.” One of the things we started doing a while ago was keeping a wiki with a number of things including interesting reference questions. [More on this below.] I look at it as a way to provide the library administration with some concrete, real-life examples of the service we provide. Thank goodness, the drive home was very uneventful, and I had a chance to chat with my eldest son on his birthday.

Thursday was day 2 of the long reference days. Had a quick hour on the desk, then a database/discovery tool demo which ran more than 30 minutes longer then I expected. More desk time, lunch, desk, then a meeting with other staff here. Whew! In the mail were several "prisoner letters." These are reference questions which we receive by mail from the inmates of several prisons of the state. We try to answer them as best we can, knowing that they do not have any internet access. The questions about Louisiana, we can send to that section of the library, and the legal questions we forward to the state's Supreme Court Law Library. We do track the "prisoner letters" on the internal Wiki. I started doing that just to get an idea of where the questions were coming from. I'll also note that we have some "regular" correspondents who make frequent requests.

Since July 1, the library building is not open to the public on Fridays. Staff still reports to work, and for my department, it means that we can actually have a departmental meeting (which we did last week, this week there are only two of us here.) It is also officially a casual dress day. My day started with a blood draw (just routine stuff). Then, it seems that no matter how hard I try, the day gets chopped up. Some of my accomplishments today include:
  • Getting a second Center for the Book staff member set up on Facebook for tagging photos (so we can publish the work site page)
  • Creating an email reminder on entering statistics, and getting the language approved
  • Typing up notes from Thursday's meeting for my staff and a fellow department head the latter of whom was called away
  • Reading many, many emails
  • Working on an (e)mail merge for libraries who are missing data
  • Sent that email (with only one strange error)
  • Entered data from the 5 libraries which responded immediately
  • Spent time in the stacks with our gun books to answer questions from two different parish libraries
  • Almost cleared off my desk
  • Sent an overdue email to participants in the Library Support Staff Certification class from this spring.
Whew! What a day. I am glad that the week is over!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reflections on living in New Orleans

Ed note: I started writing this right after ALA, but was interrupted. This was followed by a week in Panama (vacation) and some time when I was not well. But such is life.

For most of the past week, I have been with my professional colleagues who came to New Orleans for the American Library Association Annual Conference. Five years ago, in 2006, I completed my service as a member of the ALA Executive Board, here in New Orleans. That included participating in the discussions which led to our decision to hold the conference here, less than a year after Katrina. Little did I dream that I would ever live here.

I am also currently reading Deliriously New Orleans, which is sort of a coffee table book about the city and its history and architecture. Among the quotes which have struck me is this one:
Many born-and-bred locals and adopted transplants openly admit to an irrational attachment to the place...This is the common ground that attracts returning native and visitors alike, because for all its flaws, its distinctive culture remains its most alluring and enduring contribution to America.
New Orleans, like many older North American cities, is a city of neighborhoods. The first immigrants were in the older neighborhoods, and subsequent waves of immigration established their own enclaves. While there are some differences, there are more unifying architectural features than not.

I recommend a look at the book which highlights some of the vernacular architecture which many "serious" architecture works will over look. He also includes information about the changes wrought by that seminal 21st century event -- Katrina.

The final chapter is about St. Frances Cabrini Church. In that chapter the author has a definite axe to grind. I have no way of judging the accuracy/truth in what he presents.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vacation in Panama #4 - wrap up

The rest of the vacation was not as adventure filled.

We spent some afternoons at the pool, when the rains did not begin too early. We had dinner most nights at Rancho de Caldera. The food was excellent, if sometimes a little sophisticated for our daily diet.

Wednesday morning, we went off to the hot springs. These are the naturally occurring hot springs which give the settlement (town is a too organized idea of what is there) its name. The springs are pictured in the Boquete area activities part of the Rancho's page. They are very hot 102 - 106 degrees, but you can cool down in the nearby rive. We walked from the bridge (about 500 meters), but it was a muddy rutted road. The folks who own the property have some "changing rooms" (i.e. sheds), and charge $2 per person.

Thursday we took a horse ride around the property. It was loads of fun with fantastic views. Our guide spoke very little English, but with my very little Spanish, we were able to communicate effectively. (I'll note that he had to put a different saddle on to start, because my big, fat feet would not fit in the original stirrup.)

Stay tuned for photos, on Flickr.

Friday, we drove to David (for the first time since we left). It was an interesting trip to do in the daylight and see the scenery. We visited one casino (small by Vegas standards, or even New Orleans standards) but with mostly penny slots - right up our alley!

Saturday was the early rising to begin the long trek home: five airports, four airplanes, and a taxi ride, plus the drive to the airport and finally home.

Vacation in Panama #3 I gave up blogging while there...

Tuesday morning we had a tour of a coffee plantation: Finca Dos Jefes. I booked the tour, at Gina's recommendation [Gina is the owner of Rancho de Caldera], from the web form at the site above.

We were the only two people on the tour, which lasted the full three hours. Rich (the owner) picked us up on the main street in Boquete, and drove us up to the farm. Because it was "green season" (i.e. rainy season) we scheduled our tour in the morning. We got to see the beans growing on the trees of various ages. This is an organic farm, so they don't use pesticides. They also pay the prevailing wage to their itinerant workers, and provide decent housing for both the permanent and temporary workers. We did get to see the beans in various stages of post-drying, as they age and dry further. At the end of the tour, and after tasting some of the coffee roasted there, I got to roast some coffee. Four [4] pounds of dried, green beans (about 10.5% moisture content) will roast to 3 pounds of coffee. We also got to take some coffee home.

We ate lunch several days in different restaurants in Boquete. We had local Panamanian food, we ate in a bar, and in a Peruvian restaurant. We also ate at a very nice, upscale restaurant The Rock, overlooking the river.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Vacation in Panama #2

This is a wonderful part of the world, incredible mountains and lush jungles.

Today we went zip-lining in the top of the jungle vegetation outside Boquete. We drove to the city, and were met for the drive up to the resort (3 cabins that I could see) where we started. To say that the roads were narrow and steep would be an understatement. We eventually left the paved road for a gravel one lane road (more at the end). We finally got to the starting point. There was only one other couple doing the trek with us, but there still was, what the guides called, our paparazzi - one of the staff who took photos of everything. We then drove up a track so steep that it had a pair of paved wheel tracks to the real end of the road, right at the border of La Amistad National Park. A short trek later we were beginning our descent down 3,000 feet over 12 zip lines.

The guides were great. Two of them were named Mohammed and Israel! And their command of English was amazing.

It was an exhilarating thrill to traverse the river, see waterfalls, and be on tree stands which are over 400 years old. If you ever find yourself in Boquete, I recommend Boquete Tree Trek.

It was a 4 hour adventure, and driving back down the mountain we met about 5 vehicles coming up the other way. Since the pavement was very narrow, and there were deep drainage ditches on both sides, it was an adventure to get past each one.

I am blogging tonight because we have some down time before dinner, and the afternoon rains have hit - hard. Tomorrow morning we are going on a coffee plantantion tour, then we will go another day to the hot springs, and one of the days after that for a horseback ride. We hope the weather is good enough to hike Baru, the volcano from whose top you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Vacation in Panama #1

So, we decided to do something different this year. After the ALA Conference as a "home game" (i.e., in New Orleans), we have gone away, and not to the beach.

Saturday, July 2, saw us on 4 planes in 5 airports. Our first flight left NOLA t 5:30. It was a short hop to Houston. After a fairly short lay-over there, we were headed to Panama City (Panama). One interesting thing was that our flight left late because of a TSA/ICE search of departing passengers. There were groups of 20 or so passengers who were asked to place their bags on one side of the jetway, and step to the other. Then a dog sniffed all the items left. Why? I have no idea. After we had boarded, we were further delayed because a few people did not make the flight, and their luggage needed to be removed.

We got to Panama City in good time. We landed at the international airport (Tocumen) and then needed to get to the domestic airport (Alport). We arranged for a driver, Mr. Kelley, who was great! He got us to Aloport in good time. Alport is very much a developing nation kind of airport -- 2 airlines, each with an A and B gate. Security was, well, lets just say interesting. Watch Flickr for photos. We were on a plane big enough for flight attendants, and the flight, which left an hour late, was about the same length as from MSY to IAH. When we got there, we did not understand that we needed to pick up our luggage out on the tarmac. But we got it figured out, and after renting a car from a different company than our reservation, oh well. It is the way here.

Our hotel is wonderful. We are outside Boquete, in the volcanic mountains, up near a national park. Facebook friends have seen the view from our bed...of the mountains and the valleys is incredible. The room is great, I am sitting on a porch which has a roof, but no screens...and there are no bugs. With the breezes we have turned off the A/C. (But the ceiling fan inside is on...) The Rancho Caldera is "off the grid." All the electric is provided by solar panels and/or a generator. The water is from a well on-site and multi-purified. The pool has an infinity edge corner. The food is cooked by great chef. Lunch is a la carte, dinner is prix-fixe menu decided by the chef each night. It is wonderful

Today has been recovery. Tomorrow we zip-line through the tree canopy, Tuesday is a coffee plantantion tour, Wednesday we hope to hike Baru. From the top, you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans! Thursday we will go to the natural hot springs, and Friday we will ride the horses here on the property. Unfortunately, our adventure will end on Saturday with a reverse trip with a drive to David, flight to Panama City, transfer between airports, and then travel home. Who knows what else we will sneak in?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seriously Social: Leveraging Social Media

[Post is subject to some editing and revision, but I want to post quickly.]

Kolene Allen, Grand Rapids (MI) Public Library; David Lee King, Topeka Shawnee (KS) Public Library

What is social media, online conversations. When libraries join we join conversations they are already having.

“If you are not involved in social media you are not on the Internet.”

Twitter (Kolene):

Social networking, messaging site. 225 million accounts on Twitter as of March. 60% of all tweets come from 3rd party appl. 456 tweets per second the day Michael Jackson died, 4000 tweets per second when Obama announced death of Bin Laden.

A way to keep up, share what we are doing, recommend books, etc. We are already doing it, just in a different forum.

Recommendation: follow your followers; retweet what your followers say; mentions (@replies), talking about you.

Use DM for private messages. Often can deal with issues for folks who would not complain in person.

#Hashtags: organize conversations, useful for searching.

People are talking about you now...this is a way to keep track of what is happening, what people are saying about you, check out what other libraries are doing, build the library audience. Can search on Twitter:

Facebook (David Lee King):

How many social networking have had a movie made about them. What if you had a way for 51% of your customers for free. Right now 51% if Americans 12 and over are on Facebook.

Set up personal profile; then create organizational page, think of a shortened name. Once you have 25 friends/fans you can add that shortened name to your page. You can choose what you want for the "landing page." TSPL has just over 2,900 fans.

They have a "donate" page. With some work you can build a customized page. Can build in links to videos and pictures.

Facebook will provide statistics on "views." Therefore driving more business to the regular website.

Facebook = engaging. Easy, free, just takes time.

Planning and Strategizing:

Who is going to do the work, and then assign it (makes it a real part of their job). Use a team so that someone can handle if someone is sick or leaves. Figure out if you are going to use the events page and how, how often you post. Start with short term (one year) goals. Set goals for what you are going to do (how many status updates a week). Figure out what kind of content you will post. Figure out who your real audience is. Like button is cool which you can add to blog posts...

Important things to to:

  1. Actually tell people about your Facebook page, ask people to "friend" us.
  2. Remember you are creating and making connections, post things that are designed to continue the conversation. Post things for your target audience.
  3. Remember who you represent.....Nothing you do on the web is private.
This is real work. Someone needs to decide who to friend. Need to designate staff to do this. May need to do real training. You need to engage people and give them space to reply. There is a real return on investment. It is fun. It is where the library really needs to be, it brings the library out into the community.

First question was about multi-branch situation. Need to have folks from both branches and "central" to decide what to do. Can set up multiple pages. Topeka has separate pages for Library, Foundation, Friends, Art Gallery, and YA. Grand Rapids has only one page for all libraries, but many are doing separate pages for each branch.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ALA Conference Calendar

Here is my ALA calendar using Google Calendar. It is always subject to revision!

The only info in here is my ALA Schedule from June 24 - 28. It is (of course) still subject to revision.

With any luck, I will get to blog some stuff. And I hope to write up a post conference set of comments.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Guide to Free WiFi in NOLA

There is a new-ish blog about things to do in New Orleans and many of the city's offerings called Earlier this month they posted a list of the free WiFi hotspots in New Orleans.

I certainly encourage you to go there, but for my friends/readers who are coming to town for the ALA Annual Conference, I have cut and pasted some of the information. (I am guessing that the airport part will be most useful to folks on the way home...)

Please go to the blog....there are notes here about what neighborhoods are where.


One of the amenities of Louis Armstrong International Airport is free wi-fi. Reception is best in the main terminal. Picking up a signal in the Delta-area of the airport can be iffy.

Algiers (Algiers is just across the river from the Convention Center, the ferry is free to walk on from the end of Canal Street. Just be sure to get on the Algiers ferry and not the Gretna one!)

CBD / Downtown The CBD/Downtown is the area closest to the Convention Center. This list includes Warehouse District locations.

French Quarter, Marigny, and Bywater Y'all know the French Quarter, the Marigny and Bywater are the two neighborhoods on the other side of Eslplanade Ave. -- the direction away from the Convention Center

I am looking forward to seeing you all at the end of the month!

rev 6/14/11

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Paying your dues and collecting acronyms - A response

I abandoned ship here for a bit, but I am back. I promised some comments on Josh's post:

To refresh, here are his questions:
  1. Do libraries suffer when I/you/we don’t pay my/your/our ALA dues?
  2. How much bargaining power do they have?
  3. Are you a member? If so, will you renew?
  4. In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit of joining a professional library organization?
I number them just to make it easier to answer.

1. ALA is the oldest and largest library organization in the world. It is a mix of librarians, other library workers, trustees and other supporters, and organizations. Interestingly, while it is the American Library Association, it is only individuals (not the library organizations) who can vote and who provide the governance.

In a way, when members do not renew (organizational and personal) the association does lose something. However, ALA is a very large organization, and the size of the membership varies. I'll note as a former chair of the Membership Committee, that the number of members has pretty steadily climbed which tells me that ALA is doing some things right.

Once upon a time, there was a National Librarians Association. However, I have searched through a number of volumes and indexes in my place of work, and have not found any concrete information on it. I believe that I was a member in the mid-to-late 1970s, and part of its goal was to advocate for better salaries.

2. I'm not sure of the antecedent here. ALA has some bargaining power. The association has worked hard on legislative issues. Some of what is happening at the FCC about e-rate and net neutrality is influenced by ALA's work. There are some things which ALA has done and supported that I think do not get much notice, the Oprah Book Club is one. ALA helped to get that going, and ALA institutional members received a benefit of receiving multiple copies of each of the Oprah selections. ALA also supports things like National Library Week, and Banned Books Week. The READ posters from ALA Graphics are well received.

3. I have been an ALA member since 1976. For more than the first ten years I did not do much besides get the magazine. (Other than job hunting when I graduated from Library School in '76 -- it was the Centennial Conference in Chicago.) It wasn't until the late 80s or early 90s that I began to be involved on committees. Yes, I will renew.

4. I learn a great deal from my professional activities. I have met some really great librarians over the years. I usually go away from every library meeting with at least one new idea or insight. But there is the other half of the equation that I hope that I have been able to help others. That is part of why I try to attend things like the NMRT (New Members Round Table) Orientation as well as the Council Orientation. While I still learn there, I also have an opportunity to share some of my knowledge with those newer to the event and/or profession.

Josh....thanks for posing the questions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Orleans Restaurants

I have now written several emails about this so I decided to blog it. Folks who know me are coming to town, and looking for places to eat. So, I have decided to cut and past from one of those, the general information which I am sharing.

ALA's Annual Conference will be at the Morial Convention Center which is located in the area generally known as the Warehouse District. The Convention Center is a long building (not very deep) which runs along the river for over a mile.

Let me point you to a web site, and give you some neighborhood names. The web site lists all the restaurants in greater New Orleans which are sit down, and not fast food places. There are over 1100. The web site is done and reviews are written by the food critic for the Times-Picayune, Tom Fitzsimmons.

Here is the web site: For any of the restaurants reviewed, there is a link to Google Maps (you may have to zoom in).

Now for the neighborhoods:

Warehouse District - This is the area nearest the Convention Center. These are all definitely in walking distance from meetings

CBD - This area is a little further away from the river, and is between the Warehouse District and the French Quarter. Some places will not be open for dinner since they cater to the business day crowd.

French Quarter - This is the area most folks think of as "New Orleans." It is bounded by the River, Canal Street, Rampart Street, and Esplanade. Loads of places to eat, many will be pricey.

Marigny and Bywater - These are funky neighborhoods on the other side of the Quarter (downriver) from the Convention Center. It takes about 15 minutes to walk through the Quarter from Canal to Esplanade. There is the riverside streetcar which will take you close.

Lee Circle and the Garden District - these are a little further away (going upriver). If the restaurant is on St. Charles, then you can easily take the streetcar ($1.25 each way, exact change) which runs along St. Charles to Lee Circle, and then to Canal along Carondolet, and back to Lee Circle along St. Charles (one-way streets).

Uptown, Riverbend, Carrollton -- (that is the order you go through them going out from the City towards where I live) are all further away, but very accessible along the St. Charles Streetcar line.

Now, if you want to be really adventurous, you can take the ferry (free) from Canal Street to Algiers. Several times my wife and I have eaten at the Dry Dock Cafe which you can see from the ferry terminal. Oh, be sure to get on the Algiers Ferry not the Gretna Ferry. [There may be restaurants in Gretna, but I *really* don't know that area.]

Since I mentioned the streetcars, here is a link to the RTA site:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest Post -- Paying your dues and collecting acronyms

I have not met Josh Hanagarne personally. Our contact has all been on the web, and probably pretty one sided, viz., I read his blog pretty regularly. He blogs as The World's Strongest Librarian. He is doing a "guest post marathon" and I invited him to post here.

He raises some interesting questions in his post, to which I will respond in a separate post (later in the week). Here's Josh!

Paying your dues and collecting acronyms

“Hi sir, how are you today?”

“Fine.” I was an hour into my 12-9 shift at work. I made the mistake of answering my phone on a break.

“I am calling to inform you that your ALA membership has expired and would like to offer you the exciting—”

I thanked him, said I wasn’t interested in renewing, said good-bye, waited for him to reciprocate, and hung up. I wondered if I had told him the truth? Was I really not interested? ALA certainly wasn’t on my mind, and I didn’t renew, so I guess that tells you where my priorities were. Out on the desk, where I then commenced a hectic, lengthy, shift.

None of the patrons seemed to know that they were dealing with a newly-minted apostate.

I appreciate ALA. I think. But exciting is really not the word I’m going to apply to what has mainly amounted to the expired membership card that is still in my wallet for some reason.

Can you really need something that you never use or had never heard of?

My early career as an Acronym Gatherer

When I became a circulation assistant about 5 years ago I quickly signed up for every professional organization in existence (I’m rounding up). ALA, ULA, and MPLA.

I did this because mentors told me it was a good idea to have acronyms on a resume. Not because it was valuable, or an opportunity to network, or because of the brotherly/sisterly kinship that I could feel with my libraryland siblings.

I got on the mailing lists. I was soon unsubscribing from everything because my inbox was full enough as it was and I never saw anything very interesting to me in those emails.

It certainly didn’t hurt to join. About 18 months after starting I was offered the job to manage a branch. It took a year as a manager to realize that I’m not a manager and I happily bolted back down the ladder to librarian when the chance arose.

What professional library organizations do

They advocate for library employees, principles, and funding. They offer professional conferences; they promote freedom of access, curiosity, and knowledge. Banned Books Week is a lot of fun at our library and for that alone I hope ALA keeps on truckin’.

These are all wonderful things, although I will admit to being bored out of, although I will admit to being bored out of my skull at the two ALA conferences I have attended (as part of the Emerging Leaders program). But I know plenty of librarians who live for those conferences and “exciting professional development opportunities.”

Local or regional organizations have managed to feel even less relevant to me. I’m mildly glad to know they’re out there, but don’t really know what else to say about it.

I just don’t feel like I have needed any of them to help me do my job better, find new opportunities, or as an advocate for me as a librarian.

I have committed my life to libraries and I work here because I am part of something that matters to me. I don’t feel like my commitment is diluted in any way because I don’t care to pay for a new membership card.

So a couple if questions to start a discussion:

Do libraries suffer when I/you/we don’t pay my/your/our ALA dues?

How much bargaining power do they have?

Are you a member? If so, will you renew?

In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit of joining a professional library organization?

About the author:

Josh Hanagarne is the founder of World’s Strongest Librarian and runs a dandy online book club. This is, to his knowledge, the first time he has ever typed the word dandy.

Links - April 2011

A great idea from the Librarian in Black: a day against DRM!

Here are some cogent thoughts from one of my favorite library bloggers and library writers, Karen Schneider, they were written in reaction to the presentation at Penn State by Jeff Trzeciak of Macmaster University in Canada.

The digital divide continues. Here is a link to Jessamyn West's presentation at SXSW on a topic on which we share concern. My original concerns originated in my urban roots. How many inner city homes even have land-lines these days. My exposure to the rural situation has been broadened by my Wisconsin and now Louisiana experiences.

Jessamyn also links to a nice article about SXSW.

Links (or not) and the Harper Collins Fiasco

I have not posted much lately. Life has been busy.

My feed aggregator is full of saved links, mostly to the HarperCollins fiasco. For a while I was going to post them all as links, but then the number of links and comments which I saw got completely out of hand.

Part of my reason for posting links here is to have a place for me to be able to find links which I may want to use/see again. Does it work? Well, for the most part. I know I get traffic, even if the commenting is pretty sparse.

So....I'm going to clean out most of the links in my feed aggregator, and post only the most important ones here.

Eric Hellman does some nifty analysis of book use (which he calls "physics of book use"). I have to admit that my calculus and advanced math is rusty enough to not quite get all the implications...And then there is the response from a statistician which he also posted. (Eric is good at clever naming, not the least of which is the name of his blog!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Get off my lawn! Those new kids and reading

Well, maybe the title exaggerates a little bit... I was reading the latest (April 2010) Cites and Insights by Walt Crawford. His "Perspective" piece this time is about reading. ("Writing about reading" is the title.) I admire both Walt's gathering of viewpoints and his analysis. I was moving along just fine, until I got to his discussion about a piece by Barbara Fister and the reading styles of the current college student crowd. Barbara's article is called "Reading: Outmoded or a la Mode?" It is in her column called "Peer to Peer" which appears as part of Library Journal's Academic Newswire. (It took me a moment or two to find it.) It is dated October 28, 2010. Both talk about the "myth" of non-readers and short attention spans among the "next generation." First of all, let me say that while there are probably some generational differences (and certainly frames of cultural references), like Walt, I am not a fan of overly broad generalizations. Barbara notes early on in her article: "You know how kids today don't like to read? Can't focus for more than five seconds? Are so intent on multitasking, visual stimulation, and interactivity that they turn their noses up at books?" She then goes on to later reveal "So my youthful and avid-reader colleague Julie Gilbert and I did something radical: we decided to ask students what they think. ... The student made arrangements to administer it anonymously in dozens of classes spread across the curriculum from first through senior year, collecting responses from a sample that is representative of our student body, and then we crunched the numbers. ... A whopping 93 percent of our students reported that enjoy reading for pleasure. All kinds of reading: books, magazines, newspapers. Reading on the Internet (though that scored lower than reading in print)." One of the most salient points (that I can even see in my personal life) is that it is sometimes hard to find the time to set aside to read. After more discussion and surveys, Barbara found out that "the problem is that students have piles of assigned reading to complete and very active social lives and more often than not a job as well as athletic and music commitments, not to mention that often significant relationships are developing—that's what you do when you are starting adulthood—and they say, with good reason, they simply don't have time." Towards the end she tells an anecdote about a recently retired English professor who now had the time to read for pleasure. That is echoed in Walt's comment "I'm reading more books now than I have in a long time..." I certainly see that in my life. I have maintained a reading log since sometime in the 1980s. (It was recommended by Joyce Sarricks to help with readers' advisory work.) If I look at various times when I read more and when I read fewer books, there are life events related to them. Even now, I listen to more books than I read because I can do that during the 3+ hours each day that I spend commuting. Bottom line...KTD (kids these days), do like to read, and do it when they have the time. Those of you who think otherwise: Get Off My Lawn!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Post #501 - ALA Elections 2011

Wow....I have done 500 posts since July 2005.

ALA Ballots are out. In past years, some colleagues would ask my advice on voting choices. Here are mine for this year.

First, for ALA President, I am voting for Maureen Sullivan.

For ALA Council this is the year we will elect 34 Councilors. There is one vacancy, so the person who is 35th highest in votes will fill out a 2 year term. I commend:
  • Diedre (Dee) Conkling
  • Martin L. Garnar
  • Charles E. Kratz*
  • Diane R. Chen*
  • Linda Mielke
  • Matthew P. Ciszek
  • John Carl Sandstrom
  • Jenny Emanuel
  • JP Porcaro
  • J.Douglas (Doug) Archer
  • Kate Kosturski
  • Shirley Ann Bruursema
  • Roberto Carlos Delgadillo
  • Pamela C. Sieving
  • Andrew K. Pace
  • Margaret L. Kirkpatrick
  • Em Claire Knowles*
  • John DeSantis
  • Bobbi L. Newman
  • Bill Turner
  • Patricia A. Wand
  • Eric David Suess
  • Mike L. Marlin
  • Barbara K. Stripling*
  • James K. Teliha
  • Toni Negro
  • Ed Garcia
*These folks are all former members of the ALA Executive Board, and bring a great deal of experience to the association.

Others on the list are folks who have served on Council, and whose work and opinions I respect. There are yet others who are newer to the profession, have started working their way up, and deserve the opportunity to participate in the governance of ALA. [This latter group includes: Bobbi L. Newman, Jenny Emanuel, Andrew K. Pace, JP Porcaro, and Kate Kosturski.]

I want to specifically note that Shirley Ann Bruursema is a Trustee, a group under-represented on Council, and she has served well as the ALTA/ALTAFF Division Councilor. I also want to note that Mike L. Marlin is a well-spoken advocate for special users of libraries, especially those with vision issues.

So...those are my recommendations.

Searching v. Discovery (and ALA) [Post #500]

In looking at my list of posts as I edited this one and a couple others, I noticed that this is post number 500.[Actually there are three older posts in draft form that I need to edit...this weekend, I hope.] I started on July 5, 2005. At that time I never thought I would get this far, and certainly not in 5 1/2 years.

Andromeda Yelton, in her ... blog, talks about these topics. In chronological order, she starts with "The structure of ALA seems to me like a controlled vocabulary." In that post, she admits that she understands the strength and power of controlled vocabulary, but in moving the analogy to ALA she shows some insight:
I see people (including, but not only, Gen Xers) talking about the disconnect between ALA and younger librarians, they’re talking about the divide between a slow vetting process and a system that’s nimble, fast, long-tail-friendly, decentralized — chaotic, uncertain, unpredictable, emergent.
She ends with a great question:
You want to know what I spend a lot of time thinking about these days, it’s this: how do you cultivate the metaphoric parallels of tagging in a controlled-vocabulary world? How do you get there from here?
A day later she talks more about the fallacies of tagging (i.e. discovery) and less about ALA.

And finally, she gives her answers to some of the questions Andy Woodworth raises about ALA.

Friday, February 25, 2011

E-books in libraries

I have posted on some of my concerns about libraries, e-books, digital rights management (and its associated software), and the fact that libraries are now purchasing "access" or licenses, and not items protected by the copyright law and doctrine of "first sale rights." Some of those concerns were framed by the way some libraries are using Netflix.

Tom Peters did a great historical survey on ALA Techsource in a post called E-Book Lending Clubs. (It is very much an irony that it hit the web just a day or two before the HarperCollins thing blew up!)

Infodocket was first on my radar screen to pick up the latest. [It is a new blog from folks with good blogging/library pedigrees.] Their post (It's Always Something) makes some good points.

Eric Hellman gives a good overview of the e-book industry and some of the issues from the publishing perspective. He ends his post with an interesting observation:
Even if the lending models of today turn out to be transitional, they help everyone involved become comfortable with library ebooks. Once the library ebook experience becomes embedded in our everyday lives, readers, publishers, authors and librarians will be able to recognize the novel digital distribution models that benefit everyone.
Maybe the transition is already beginning. But let's hope that the publishers listen to the backlash and do something for libraries rather than to which is what it seems that they are starting to do.

It seems that this issue has now become a huge concern. Here is the story as reported in Library Journal: HarperCollins Puts 26 Loan Cap on Ebook Circulations. You should read the comments.

Joe Atzberger has a succinct post and summary.

Stephen Abram posted about an article on "The Subscription Economy" where he notes some of the positive aspects and draws the analogy to what libraries are doing with serials (which also worries me, even as I weed the collections here at work). What he does not mention are the negative aspects/problems with the subscription model. What do you do when the organization which sold you the subscription goes bankrupt, or in Internet tradition, just disappears leaving only a "404 Page not found" message?

Some of my concerns are also related to what Lorcan Dempsey talks about as the university's curatorial role. In some ways you can substitute "library" for "university." What is our curatorial role, and how can we fill that role when all we have paid for is a license, and not the property rights? I don't know the answer, but I do know that it is an important question to resolve.

David Lee King is asking for input/ideas on the topic. He summarizes things nicely in Let’s Play Rent-A-Book!

Finally, one of my Louisiana colleagues has posted her thoughts about the HarperCollins plan. (Nice post, Emilie!)

Well, it was finally, except that Sarah Houghton-Jan posted more extensively her thoughts. She is quoted in the LJ article cited above. She issues a call to action. For me the most quotable paragraph is this one:
I cannot over-emphasize that we are in trouble my friends. The lack of legislative leadership and advocacy in the last decade has created a situation where libraries have lost the rights to lending and preserving content that we have had for centuries. We have lost the right to buy a piece of content, lend it to as many people as we want consecutively, and then donate or sell that item when it has outlived its usefulness (if, indeed, that ever happens at all).

Links -- End of February

OK...first some fun. In New Orleans, food is always a good topic of conversation. Last summer Food TV did The Great Food Truck Race. Around the same time, I started noticing food trucks around Baton Rouge, particularly on North Street, and on Tuesdays, along Spanishtown Road. (I can see the latter from my office window.) I have eaten from a couple, and today, I found a great web site which lists all the BR food trucks along with their most recent tweet, twitter name, and web site (where applicable). Loads of fun, and the food is good, too!

Now on to the more serious stuff!

Iris Jastram is always thoughtful. Her job is so very different than mine that she gives me a valuable insight into the world of an academic reference librarian. (She works at Carleton College in Northfield MN. It is a highly regarded, small liberal arts college.)

Part of her official job includes instruction. Admittedly much of that is to what seems to a public librarian a fairly homogeneous audience. They are usually between 18 - 21 years old, and bound by the topic of the class which they are taking. More recently she blogged about learning goals.

It is an interesting post...there is a lot of content there. However, I'll note that what she talks about is what Boy Scout Leadership Training (both for youth and adults -- note: I have participated as an adult in both courses linked here) as well as my current work place call "learning objectives." When I do a presentation currently, one of the first slides is always. "By the end of this session you will know..."

The ALA Washington Office has a long (for them) post about what is going on in Congress over net neutrality. It is a good place to catch up on the latest.

Maybe this belongs in the post about e-books, but Jessamyn West posted before the current kerfuffle about e-books and libraries. She starts with "This is shaping up to be the year that people really start seeing ebooks and libraries as things that can go together." I hope she is correct.

Finally (for this post), the ever thoughtful Karen Schneider has a nice piece on advice for new librarians and mentoring. It is worth reading, and if you haven't read her other posts on the topic recently, follow her links.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Links - Mid-February

My Google Reader is getting clogged up with saved posts, so it must be time again.

digital infrastructure for the National Archives. She questions some of the basic assumptions and costs.

On her own blog, she talks about what she calls "lexicality." This is the ability to express a concept in words. Her evaluation is that it is easy to clearly express and define a concept in "the sciences," but much less easy in other fields. That is what makes it so hard to look for things in catalogs...and even on Google. The bottom line is that in scientific writing, the concepts are terms which will show up in the full text of a work. The same is not necessarily true in fields like philosophy -- or I would argue, even library science.

I picked this up from Jessamyn, but several other including Brian Herzog noted it. (How did his blog slip off my list???) Would you have recognized a USB keylogger? I guess it started in England, I have not seen one.

I am sometimes looking for a library specific image for a flyer. Stephen Abram has noted a location for free images for library use.

Kathy Dempsey has a great post about why it is important to read the articles/posts/reviews/comments that are not favorable to libraries.

Karen Schneider posted about some of the trends that she has observed. They include:
  1. the shift from DVD to streaming video (happening at a faster than expected rate)
  2. wi-fi saturation [you'll have to read her post for this...]
  3. laptops (at least on a college campus they are almost ubiquitous)
She ends by commenting on the need for power and tables. While I don't see that trend (and we are more like a public library than an academic), the February 1 issue of Library Journal did in an article called "The Quiet Plug Crisis."

Friday, February 11, 2011


Earlier this week, I posted a bunch of links. Included was a link to Karen Schneider's post "In Praise of Succeeding." The very next morning I heard a talk by Katrice Albert, whose topic was on cultural competence and diversity (her specialty).

Included in her presentation was a video of Dewitt Jones, a free lance photographer for the National Geographic , who talked about creativity. Listening to the points he made encouraged me to go back to Karen's post.

In my linking to Karen's post I had said: "Early in the essay she says (and I cleaned up the shorthand a little), 'Another blog post I don’t have time to write: how failure is overrated, and often confused with iterative design.' I like that last part....'confused with iterative design.' That is a great phrase, since I am generally a half full glass person. She draws very heavily from her experience in a MFA writing program. It is a great post."

She notes that the conversations about failure are mostly about our getting comfortable with the fact that we won't always succeed. She notes "But let’s be clear that succeeding is personally and professionally more rewarding than failing." [Oh, how true that is!]

She then goes on to talk about the importance of the iterative design process, and group processes. Karen drew on an experience from her MFA program where one student dropped out because, as she said, "This writer liked the idea of 'succeeding,' ... but was not able to handle what success actually required."

In the Dewitt Jones video he talked about the concept of "multiple right answers." This is most certainly true in his work, and he showed examples of how either changing lenses on his camera, changing his position, or changing what he (literally) focused on, would dramatically change what we, the viewers saw. He talked about positioning ourselves in the "place of most potential."

The handout for the presentation drew on these points and listed "nine concepts of everyday creativity." These belong to Katrice Alpert, and she should be credited with them:
  1. Creativity is the ability to look at the ordinary and see the ... extraordinary.
  2. Every act can be a creative one.
  3. Creativity is a matter of perspective.
  4. There's always more than one right answer.
  5. Reframe problems into opportunities.
  6. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
  7. Break the pattern.
  8. Train your technique.
  9. You've got to really care.
It is a great list. It can be applied to most library situations. One of the electronic discussion lists I regularly read (and is co-moderated by Karen) is PUBLIB, an electronic discussion list for public librarians. There are (the last I heard) about 7,000 subscribers. The archives are on the web. The topics covered are wide ranging. What often fascinates me is the different ways that librarians solve the problems faced in public libraries. No one solution is always correct.

Karen's post contains some real gems towards the end. (I am glad that I went back and re-re-read it!) One of them is this one: "the failure may not be in the idea, but how it is introduced and managed." She notes that if an organization can only do ten things, the eleventh idea will either supplant one of the prior ten, or will have to wait.

In my life I have dealt with many impatient people. Another gem of a quote from Karen is: "Patience, grasshopper. “Not now” is not the same as “no.” Sometimes a great idea needs to wait its turn..." There is more after that, which you should read.

So, I am grateful to two women whose names start with K who touched me intellectually this week: Karen Schneider and Katrice Albert