Saturday, January 29, 2011

Library Day in the Life - Round 6 - Part 2

For the rest of the week, here is a short daily re-cap:

Tuesday: I was worried that the rain would affect my commute, but it did not. Good news for me is that the temp is still in the mid 50s (above zero). Watched "the regulars" come in this morning. It is interesting how each library has its own group. Here some of them are homeless, and use the library as a place to hang out. They also often know each other. I have gotten many of them to greet me with a hello each day. (I try to be welcoming.) There are periodic changes in the group as someone gets a job, or moves away, but this is a pretty well behaved group.

One of my tasks each morning is to open the seminar center if a group is using it. Yesterday and today it has been a training session for math instructors and is being done by staff of the Department of Education. This morning one of them asked me about our services, so I had the opportunity to promote the library.

I also have now become the "go-to person" for stats, and get to play with the state's system of gathering statistics from our agency. And, today, I was asked to help with the library's Facebook presence. Moving forward!! Had a very productive afternoon meeting with the folks who run the other public service departments. We resolved several issues.

Wednesday: Had to get gas to start the morning trip...But today was sunny. It was 10 degrees (F) colder today when I left than yesterday, and, as usual, got colder as I drove from the city into the more rural areas (i.e. swamp). One staff member is out today, so more desk time than usual. Yesterday it was nice to have a full staff. Quiet at the Reference Desk this morning. I forget what it is, but Wednesday morning there is some event which has our "regulars" arriving late, like 8:30 - 8:45. It was quiet enough that I took the first steps to set up the Facebook page for the Library.

Thursday: Both the wife and I got up very early (middle of the night) so we did a first run at the taxes. Getting a refund! Woot! However, that could be the down payment for her to purchase the car she has been leasing for the past three years....I left earlier than usual, and had an uneventful drive, but the sunrise (in the rear view mirror) was spectacular. There were just enough clouds in the East to make the colors glorious as I drove across the swamps. Down one staff member today (as opposed to a suddenly down 2 yesterday) means less desk time than yesterday, but more than a normal day.

Got a lot done at work, in spite of spending a lot of time on the desk. Spent about 45 minutes, off and on, with an electrician who had been to a job center. They took his resume and reformatted it to post it to the job folks web site. However, this guy, an admitted "three finger typist" did not like how it looked. We went through, cutting it, pasting it, re-formatting it, saving it to Google Docs, and for insurance, emailing it to himself. It reminds me of how much I really do know!

On the drive home I was reminded again about the beauty around me. First of all, there were enough Eastern clouds, that the setting sunlight was reflected nicely in it. Right by where the Interstate leaves the swamp/lake and enters the metro area are two sights that always amaze me. I noticed the firs early in my first spring. There is a large, tall tree which has a cluster of sticks in a crook near the top. One day, I saw a bird there....I looked closely, and it was an American Bald Eagle. I have seen both male and female birds, and even the heads of the young, over the time I have been doing the commute. It is on the south side of I-10, right by the I-310 cut-off. On the other side, there is an area of "bushes" (maybe they are mangroves?). In the morning, and sometimes in the evening, it looks like white plastic shopping bags have been caught on the branches by the water. But that is not what they are....they are roosting egrets. I see egrets all over the place. They are water birds, and a bunch of my drive is along water. I have also seen them in Audubon Park here in the city. A final note is that I can tell when it is "wet" or "dry" based on the level of Lake Pontchartrain along "the Spillway." Lately it seems like the levels are dropping. We are in winter, and I guess that is OK. All the snow up north will melt, and run down, eventually into the Mississippi River, the Spillway is an outlet to keep New Orleans from flooding by diverting water into the lake. We'll see!

Friday: It is payday. Yay! It is also another gas fill-up. But, gas prices are down to $2.81! Got to work and got the last info I needed for my first time entering the departmental data into the state-wide data collection platform. It was an interesting experience, and not as difficult as I feared. Of course some of that is that folks in the other library departments are good about entering their data monthly into an Excel spreadsheet which is the basis for the organization wide data. It was a relatively quiet morning on the Reference Desk with the usual questions about tax forms....and I asked for more state forms from the folks up in the Louisiana Section (who collect all state publications, and therefore deal with the tax forms for us). I will be glad when the instruction booklets come in!

The mail brought professional journals, ads for publications, and letters from the prison. One of our jobs is to respond to requests for information from prisoners. This spring, I started an internal wiki to keep track of both the types of questions and the prison from which we were getting them. One of these days (maybe around the first anniversary, or at the new fiscal year), I'll have to sit down and analyze them.

Bonus: When I was growing up, and when my kids were growing up, we often played variations on the "license plate game" while on long trips. There are many visitors to Louisiana. Here is a list of state license places seen on the highway this week (other than Louisiana), in rough order of appearance: New Jersey, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, South Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, New York, Missouri, Washington, North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, Nebraska. That's 28 out of the 50 states. I did not see any Canadian or Mexican license plates -- this week.

Blog Bonus: I read 162 different blogs in Google Reader. But I want to give a shout out to one of my favorite Monday - Thursday cartoons. It was created by half of the creative genius team behind Unshelved, and revolves around computer programing. The title says a lot Not Invented Here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Library Day in the Life - Round 6 - Part 1

I have never formally participated in this project before, but in looking through my blog archives I found this posting from August 2005 about what administrators do, and this one from September which is a very brief snapshot of that interesting day. I did participate in the Library Routes project and posted my route here.

While I live in New Orleans (NOLA), I work in Baton Rouge at the State Library of Louisiana. My drive from NOLA to Baton Rouge is about 80 miles (each way), and as a result I put a lot of miles on my car. I passed a milestone earlier this month.

I serve as a "Library Consultant" as part of Library Development, and as the Head of Reference.

Here is how today went:

Went to bed last night feeling "off." I think that my headache (which woke me up at 2 am) was more about dehydration than about anything else. I got up at about 4:50 (am) well before the time my alarm was set for (5:15). I went through my usual routine which includes looking at my checking account online, reading personal email, the usual morning ablutions, making breakfast (a slice of toast from homemade sourdough bread) for me and Miss R, and making sandwiches (lunch) for the two of us. Miss R actually was up for a few minutes for a nice morning good bye. I am sure she went back to sleep! I was out the door by 6:15. Because I had planned ahead, I did not have to stop for gas this morning -- I got it last night when I ran the holiday decorations back to the storage locker. Because I drive 160 miles each work day, I get gas every other day. I am getting about 27-28 miles per gallon, but with prices going up again, it costs me about $17.00 per day for gas alone. I haven't done the metric conversions, but I noted today that Shell is at $2.95/gallon and Exxon is $2.87. I get gas at the gas station in between them which is $2.83. Now, that is lower than elsewhere in the country. But, I'll note that I see about a half-dozen refineries on my travels every work day, so it is pumped out of the ground here, and made into gasoline here, also.

The drive was almost uneventful. My route takes me on the Interstate (I-10) past the airport. I was thinking this morning about my first post-Katrina trip. Driving from the airport, the access road dumps cars going towards New Orleans on to the highway. I was there for the American Library Association Conference in June 2006, and was one of the Board which had to decide whether we would hold the conference there. That trip, I remember seeing some less devastation than I had expected, but there were many businesses which were clearly not in operation, and many of the homes had roofs covered in blue tarps. I think the latter is probably the clearest memory of that whole stay. This summer, ALA returns. It will be interesting to actually live in the host city for a big conference which I am planning to attend.

When I leave New Orleans each morning, it is before sunrise (at this time of year), the traffic in my direction is pretty light. However, by the time I get to Baton Rouge, not only has the sun risen, but I am in the midst of the daily heavy traffic flow through the city towards the university and downtown. Today was no exception. Traffic was stop and go from Essen Lane onwards. Why? Well someone had a bad day...after Acadian Thruway, there was an accident where a smaller car had rear-ended a pick-up truck. After that point traffic cleared, and I was at work, on time, for my 7:45 opening of the desk to be ready for the public at 8 am.

It has been a relatively quiet day for me. Not much activity at the desk. After my first shift at the first floor desk, I took a walk around the green space being created across the street from the library. Every day, at least once, I try to get outside the building and walk around. First of all it gets me away from work. Second, it gets me to do some (very moderate) exercise. Third, I get to breathe some fresh air, and fourth, during some of the year, it lets me warm up.

While eating lunch, I listened to the archived version of a web cast by Toby Greenwalt called "Designing Customized Library Services: Book-a-Librarian and BookMatch." It was a good session, and since I have been asked to develop a "book a librarian" kind of service for my library, I will probably go back to it again.

I then returned for a second, short stint at the first floor desk. Although, we recently integrated our books on MP3 into our spoke word audio collection (along with the comedy "albums/collections"). A patron came up and asked about them, and I said that they were integrated. He looked disappointed, and I called the head of technical services to see if we could search for them in the catalog. The format information is there, just not search-able, yet. She quickly sent me spreadsheet listing them (which made the patron very happy), now we are working out how we can add that as a search in the catalog.

The rest of the afternoon was on the third floor (where the circulation collection 000-899 are located. (900s and biographies -- for now -- are on the fourth floor.) Here I was able to spend some time catching up on professional weeding, talking with the stacks manager about some shifting and weeding projects, and working on the files I need to send so that we can begin data collection for the federal report.

It was raining by the end of the day. That meant that traffic started off very slow, however after a few miles it picked up, and was pretty steady all the way into New Orleans. That's where it got bad. Just before the I-10/610 split, there was a spin out into the median wall. That slowed folks down. Then, as I continued on I-10, just before my exit, another spin out into the median (thank goodness I was getting off the highway!). The rest of the trip was uneventful. About an hour and 45 minutes home, home just after 6 pm.

On my way in, I finished listening to My life as a fake by Peter Carey, read by Susan Lyons, and then I started Stonehenge: [a novel of 2000 BC] by Bernard Cornwell, read by Sean Barrett.

So, this is supposed to be A Day in the Life but runs for a week. This has been my day...on Friday, I'll post any highlights between now and then.

For now, the rain is pouring down, and I hope that does not affect tomorrow's commute. As you can tell, commuting is a big part of my life!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

E-Books and librararies (several takes)

I decided to put this separately from my usual link articles. There are a number of articles/posts which recently hit my desk about e-books, Kindles, and libraries.

First one I saw was Stephen Abram's on Kindles and libraries. He cites a post from the Kindle Review, a blog about Kindles. Here is what that blog says is the answer: "The quick answer would be – No, not really. Not unless Amazon loses its head. Not unless another company starts beating it on the basis of library book support. Not unless there’s a gun put to its head." He notes that it is simply not in Amazon's business plan. Stephen then goes on to suggest that libraries need to not purchase Kindles and encourage patrons to purchase one of the other devices out there. [As a side note, today I had a phone call from a library user who wanted to know how to download library books on her Kindle. I was gentle, told her this story, and sent her on to her local parish library's web site for info on the kinds of e-books she could easily borrow.]

AL Online picked up on Meredith Farkas' and her post about e-books and libraries and her concerns. Meredith notes that she was surprised at how much she liked the Kindle (after using NetBooks and ebrary). It is the lack of a back-lit screen. [I am reading that as more of an endorsement for the technology than for the DRM which comes with the device.] Below are two important points she makes:
And the options that libraries now have for ebooks (in terms of content, interface, interoperability, etc.) are, by and large, piss-poor. ... But the negatives, the uncertainties of where the ebook market is headed, and the current restrictions most ebook vendors have placed on their products often outweigh the benefits.
Here are the bullet points for the other issues she raises in this fairly long piece:

  • There are differences between eBooks for individuals and eBooks for libraries to lend
  • What about ILL?
  • Too many platforms, too little interoperability
  • And how do you browse a shelf of eBooks?
  • DRM and crazy rules for “lending”
  • What do we own and what does that mean?
  • Patron driven acquisitions is not a magic bullet
Read the whole thing. It is worth it.

There were two "Christmas present" posts. Sarah Houghton-Jan talks about her love for her Kindle (with reservations) as does Chad Haefele and his new-found love for his Kindle, since he got one for Christmas.

Sarah clearly states that she loves the Kindle as a consumer, but detests it as a librarian. You can also watch her unpack her Kindle. Chad talks more about why he likes it, and defers to Sarah on some points.

Finally, Eric Hellman reviews some of the issues related to book and e-book identification. He attended a recent book industry presentation which shared a study of the use, issues and practice surrounding assignment of ISBNs in the US book industry. He noted that while there is a theoretical policy for assigning numbers to e-books,
Implementation of that policy is all over the map, with little coherence between one company and another in ISBN assignment practice. What's more, he found that the industry is almost unable to communicate with itself due the wide variations in the practical definitions of terms such as "format," "product," "version[,]" and "work."

Eric gives an excellent example of this in the way Barnes & Noble assigned numbers including to some "enhanced" e-books which originally only they were selling. There is much more, and Eric lays out some of the issues for libraries in very clear language. It is an aspect of e-books which I had not previously considered.

What is Community?

One of the blogs I follow is written by a current library school student at Simmons. It is called Opinions of a Wolf. A majority of the posts are reviews of books, movies, and television shows. Fridays is usually a personal update, and there is enough there to keep me reading.

A recent post was subtitled Thoughts on Community and Environment. It made me think about the meaning of community, what exactly a community is, and where we build our own communities.

"Wolfie" started her discussion by noting that one of her friends "is currently on a kibbutz in Israel, and she emailed me asking me what I think makes a community."

If you go to the dictionary, you get a definition like this:

  1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
  2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
  3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the ): the business community; the community of scholars.
  4. a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
  5. Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
  6. Ecology . an assemblage of interacting populations occupying a given area.
  7. joint possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.: community of property.
  8. similar character; agreement; identity: community of interests. the community, the public; society: the needs of the community.*
Notice that the first six definitions all refer to a similar geographic location. Even the seventh definition has some relationship to close geographic proximity. I could even argue that the eighth includes a great deal about physical proximity.

I think that maybe because I did not attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting, that I have subconsciously thought more and more about some of my "chosen" communities. It may also be reflective of my holiday season gatherings. Let's go in reverse order.

My family continues to have an annual gathering of the eight of us siblings, with our spouses/others and as many of our offspring and their spouses/others as can make it. It is the one time each year when we all gather together. Given that there are eight of us siblings, and a growing number of the offspring who are married/have significant others, the size of the gathering can be overwhelming for a newcomer. (I certainly noticed this the last two years.) Are we a community? I like to think so. Physically we are stretched mostly on the East Coast from Northern Virginia to Southern Maine, with me as the outlier in New Orleans. Yet we frequently communicate with each other, and certainly keep in touch. Various groupings come together throughout the year for holidays and other events. (This year there were two weddings.) It is a special kind of community, possible most likely because of the size of our family. I guess it raises the question: Is family a community? I vote yes.

We, my wife and I, left the family gathering to spend a week in Jamaica at a resort where we knew there would be a number of friends. Each year many of us spend some time at this resort, and there are a lot of "repeaters." It makes for a kind of community for the week, with the folks who participate coming literally from all across North America (and beyond). I'll note here that social software has certainly made keeping in touch in between times very, very easy.

ALA Midwinter followed. I was able to follow what was happening (as much as I chose to) via postings to blogs, photo-sharing sites, and Twitter. Those folks are a different community. There are some who I normally only see twice a year, and not all of us attend each of the ALA gatherings. For me there are sometimes overlapping groups: from PUBLIB, current and former ALA Council and Board members, public librarians, colleagues from former workplaces and current and former states. Some folks are in more than one group. Every time I make new friends, and build my "virtual" community to be somewhat larger.

Wolfie talks about community as a group which "support[s] each other unconditionally." While she also talks about love, I am not sure I agree totally. There are some in my communities who are folks that I respect. I respect their personal values and intellect, but some are folks who challenge me to think more clearly, to reconsider positions, in general to be better. (And for my money, that is part of what "love" is about, too.)

So, I missed seeing some of my "communities" in January. The good news, is that they will be coming to see me in June at the ALA Annual Conference.



Back on January 11, I posted my first comments about the flap over web-casting the LITA Board meeting. That included links to a couple other posts.

A week later, I posted mostly in support of the eloquent thoughts of my friend Karen Schneider.

I've had a number of other communications since then, on Twitter (some private messages), and via "good old-fashioned" email.

Yesterday, the LITA Blog had an official response to what happened. (I counted six [6] tweets which refer to that response. More may have happened I only searched "LITA Board.")

I found the LITA board letter interesting, and the charge to the committee (oops, task force) which includes "monetizing" events very interesting. My personal take (as a non-LITA member) is that if you want to monetize events, the events to try that with are programs -- not Board meetings. It will be rare to find someone willing to *PAY* for a stream of a Board meeting. For a program, many people may pay a modest fee. If the cost to produce, send, and collect the money is low enough, it could be a source of revenue for the organization. I am guessing that there would be lots of youth services folks who would pay a small fee to watch the Monday morning book awards ceremony at Midwinter every year. The key question (and I served on the ALA EB, including on Finance and Audit, and have been on divisional Finance Committees) is whether the cost to recover the cost of collecting is enough. (There *is* a cost to collect registration fees.)

Somehow or other, I had missed this very good post from Bohyun Kim which raises some of the very same issues that I mention above about the likelihood of programs being a better revenue generator.

I am going to go back to several things that Karen Schneider points out more eloquently than I could:
  1. the Open Meeting policy has obviously been OBT (Overcome By Technology);
  2. it is happening any way [links at the bottom of Meredith Farkas' post];
  3. OBT lawbreaking appears to be key to fiduciary health;
  4. allowing for the impact of a very bad economy, the “streamers” are doing better overall than the “meetwares;”
  5. however counterintuitive to the people who count nickels, the more you open your proceedings, the healthier your organization;
  6. as as rule, ALA committees tend to get focused on the idea that something needs to be made available to the entire association, BY the association, in a uniform manner.
As ALA Policy/Governance wonk, let me say that it is the last item which has me most worried. It is what keeps ALA moving so glacially at times. Let's move on!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Links - January

Walt Crawford asks about data on libraries (as institutions) using social networking.

The inimitable Jessamyn West calls one of her posts Blogging Alone – Social Isolation and New Technology from Pew. It is thoughtful and related to the question above (at least a little). She has also posted about a term new to me (but which makes sense): search neutrality.

Aaron Tay wonders about the effect on libraries of Delicious closing down (or not). [Note to self: Get work-related issue back on the discussion table.]

There is a thoughtful piece in American Libraries Online about outsourcing, from a consultant who helps libraries get through the process of becoming efficient without outsourcing.

I don't usually get to teach in a formal setting, but there are occasions in my new job where I will. I pay attention to what Iris Jastram says about what she figures out about teaching and learning. As an academic setting, her teaching takes place in a very different setting. She is teaching part of a structured, formal, semester-long course. When I teach it is a 90-minute web course, or maybe a half or full day, skills-based focused course. I found a great deal to glean from her post on specialization.

Iris also wrote a paen to the "reference interview" which took the conceptual issue further and applies its principles to broader issues in her work community.

I have not read much about the "generational divide" recently, however, Librarian Kate gave her reaction to an article on KPBS which came out of the recent ALA Midwinter meeting in San Diego. (Original post here.) As a boomer living with a NextGen librarian, I am not sure I agree about any of the generalizations, but the view is important.

And on a totally unrelated topic Fonts. Salon recently had an article on fonts. Wired also had an article on fonts. Both are drawn from the original Princeton study (which....attention Dorothea Salo seems to be OA article!.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LITA Kerfluffle

I love Karen Schneider. We first met electronically in the early days of PUBLIB. We then actually met in person at a conference, and worked together for a while on ALA Council. I have been reading her blog, Free Range Librarian, for as long as I have been reading blogs. She (along with Rochelle Hartman and Jessamyn West) was part of my inspiration to blog.

Karen has been involved in LITA and tech stuff for a while. She recently posted about ALA's Open Meeting Policy and the whole LITA Kerfluffle (thanks Karen Coombs for that term).

Karen S. was actually at the meeting in question. I was not. I was half-heartedly watching the tweets, and doing other things.

Now, I am a little bit of an ALA Policy Wonk. OK, I admit it. In the past {mumble} years I have not gone to an ALA meeting with out the Handbook in hand, and once pulled it out at lunch in a restaurant.

Post-ALA, I have poked and nudged a few of my friends in higher places about the implications of this very unfortunate scenario.

Karen gets it right, and is a very much better writer than I am. (After all, she does have an MFA in writing...) Here are a couple of quotes which eloquently sum up my take on the issue:

"...the Open Meeting policy has obviously been OBT (Overcome By Technology)." Actually, Karen was lobbying for webcasting the transcription of ALA Council meetings years ago.

"...the more you open your proceedings, the healthier your organization." This is part of why open meeting laws exist for governmental bodies as well.

This quote will not get immediate comment from me, but is strongly emphasized in her post:
ALA as a body needs to immediately point its wonkiest law-making committees at the “open meeting” question, and the response — which needs to happen no later than Annual 2011 — needs to be both informed by ALA values (such as our historical commitment to intellectual freedom) and by our urgent need to stop losing money.
I am all for that, and have done a little poking myself. "One warning to all is that as as rule, ALA committees tend to get focused on the idea that something needs to be made available to the entire association, BY the association, in a uniform manner. I’m all for authority control, but we need to let flowers bloom when they’re ready, and ease up on the argument that “we can’t afford it” because ALA, as an association, can’t personally put a camera in every meeting room. "

Thanks Karen for your (usual) eloquence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Car

In the history of my writing, and also earlier in this blog, I often talked about my vehicle. I have not done so very much recently. Even though I drive 80 miles each way, every day to work, my car has been very reliable. It is a Volkswagen Jetta which I purchased almost three years ago in Wisconsin.

Well, yesterday on my way home from work, I passed a milestone: the car turned 100,000 miles. It is definitely the shortest time it has taken me to reach that milestone. The photo above shows the dashboard -- note that I pulled over to take the photo.

Below is the view out the windshield where this momentous milestone was reached...a couple miles west of the I-10 exit for US-61 (Airline Highway). It is the middle of nowhere! If you look on a map, that is very clear.

Here's to many more driving miles in my car!

Friday, January 14, 2011

First of the Year links

I have been back at work for more than a week, and finally feel like I am getting caught up. Here are some of the things I found of interest since I returned:

First, from one of my new favorite, thoughtful bloggers (along with Walt Crawford, Meredith Farkas, Stephen Abram, and a number of others...) Eric Hellman. To close out the year, he talked about "catastrophic future of libraries" and concluded with the forceful statement:
In 2011, let's build things that change the system dynamics.
He also posted about Bridging the eBook-Library System Divide. His post talks about some of the issues facing libraries with providing ebooks, and still keeping their "brand" alive.

I guess that Meredith and I must have been thinking along the same lines, since the day after I posted about the LITA flap, she added thoughtful comments including reflections on her experience with the ACRL Virtual Conference committee.

Iris Jastram has been posting somewhat less frequently than she once did, however, when she "talks," I always sit up and pay attention. One of her more recent posts was about searching, databases, and how we (or for her, undergraduates) look for information. One of the key quotes: "Search is all about term matching, and terms are often the hardest thing for undergraduates to harness." Two other key quotes/thoughts:

  1. Google Scholar is very forgiving of bad searching. It will nearly always give you something, even if you enter “impact of cell phones on globalization” into the search box.
  2. Disciplinary databases are not nearly as forgiving of bad searching, so they may be pretty intimidating places to start. Where they excel, however, is in foregrounding those elusive, mysterious, and powerful terms that students need so badly if they’re going to revise their searches and gather more disciplinarily relevant material.
This was driven home to me today when a patron came to the desk to ask for "books for women over 50." How do you find that? They are most often classified with the other books on a more specific topic. What did I do? Well, it is not perfect, but I started by doing a "Power" search with the keyword "women" and the phrase in keyword as "over 50." Now, Library of Congress Subject Headings have some issues, and Sandy Berman was often a vocal critic, but I was able to identify that there is an LC subject heading "Middle aged women -- United States -- Life skills guides." Now, I am not a fan of the heading, but it certainly helped me to identify some items to meet that patron's needs. And, it is all about searching, and finding the right terms.

And then there was the whole Bloglines/Delicious debacle towards the end of last year. Stephen Abram, like me, now reads his RSS feeds in Google Reader. Almost three years ago (in 2007), I tried it, and didn't like it. I even went back, after some conversation, and tried it again. Well, I admit that I did not try to move to the new Bloglines platform, and based on Stephen's experience, I am glad that I didn't. Delicious was dead, then it wasn't. I appreciate Stephen's comments on it and the alternatives.

And a final post from Stephen on change within an organization which refers to a FastCompany post and new book: Ten Questions Every Game Changer Must Answer.

David Lee King is doing a series of posts about how to use current technology to do presentations. It is called: "10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me." He does not use PowerPoint, but certainly everything he says can be done in PowerPoint. Tip #2 is one that I use for my web presentations, presenter notes. I recommend the whole series (which is not finished yet!).

ALA has a library. It serves as the resource for ALA staff and volunteer leaders, but it often gets questions from outside that sphere. American Libraries has a feed which often includes questions that the Library receives, a recent one was about recommended web sites for libraries.

One of the non-library blogs I follow is called Principled Innovation. Jeff De Cagna posts on ideas to help organizations/associations to deal with change. This is a recent post which is the first of a series and a response to a white paper for the Wisconsin Society for Association Executives.

Now, in my various travels recently I have neither had the full body scan nor pat down. But I have to admit liking these items:
ALA Executive Board member Courtney Young wrote a great post on running for ALA Council. You most likely have until the end of the month to get your petition with 25 signatures in to appear on the ballot this spring.

And in a final moment of randomness, the State of Connecticut has cut all funding for tourism promotion. As a result, they dropped the state's membership in Discover New England. So the new map simply omits Connecticut from the it here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Technology, Open meetings? Not at LITA

I have seen some of this on Twitter, and on a blog, but I am very concerned about something that happened at ALA Midwinter.

Here is the tweet which caught my attention:
griffey I was requested, a motion was made, and the LITA Board of Directors voted to have me cease streaming and recording the Board Meeting....
Michelle Boule (Smith) posted about it on her blog, and I encourage you to read it and the comments. (14 comments at this writing, including one of mine.)

For those who are not familiar with ALA and its structure, LITA (Library & Information Technology Association) is a division of ALA. (Here is a brief discussion of ALA's divisions from my ALA 101 series.) For the business inclined, divisions are "wholly-owned subsidiaries" of ALA. Therefore all of ALA's policies apply to the divisions and their meetings.

The ALA Policies (7.4.4 for the governance geeks) require that all meetings of ALA and its units be open to members and the press. It is very simple, and very simply stated.

What happened? Well, Jason Giffey, on his own initiative and with his own equipment, started to stream and web-cast the LITA Board Meeting. Now, except when discussing "matters affecting the privacy of individuals or institutions" this meeting should have been open. If he had not been a Board member, and had just wandered into the meeting, he would have every right to record and stream the meeting. I would use as analogy of what would happen if a news report, or even citizen, walked into a City Council meeting. (It is the example which first occurred to me probably because of my extensive public sector experience.) It is a public meeting and the public has the right to know.

Jason backed down when the LITA Board got upset. A part of me respects his doing that since he is a Board member and needs to continue to work with the Board. However, another part of me is very sad that LITA took this stand.

LITA is supposed to include librarians on the cutting edge of technology. "Big ALA" has been wrestling with opening up governance and ALA Council meetings. Here was a chance for LITA to take the lead and show how it can be done, and done effectively, and at very little cost. They blew it.

Karen A. Coombs commented in a similar vein on the broader topic of the relationship between virtual and physical participants.

I heard the argument stated that the reason for shutting down the web-cast was that a consultant was presenting a report which was copyrighted. I say: BALDERDASH! If LITA hired a consultant to write a report, and based on what I know about standard ALA contracts, any copyright remains the property of the division -- as far as the consultant is concerned it is a "work for hire."

If Norman Horrocks were around, he is the one I would turn to first. I am going to urge my colleagues on the ALA Executive Board to look into this. I consider it an egregious violation of the ALA Open Meetings Policy.

Read and Listened to: July - December 2010

You will note a continuing pattern (if you look at my prior lists), more listened to, and fewer read. Somehow my time for reading is being gobbled up by other activities, while my commute continues to let me listen to many titles.

So, without further ado, here is the list as cut and pasted from the sidebar:

Books read:

  1. The spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures by Anne Fadiman
  2. The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman
  3. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  4. The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
  5. Save the Last Bullet for Yourself: A Soldier of Fortune in the Balkans and Somalia by Rob Krott [A review here]
  6. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner [Did not finish]
  7. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell
  8. The year before the flood : a story of New Orleans by Ned Sublette
  9. Folly by Marthe Jocelyn a review copy
Books listened to:
  1. A venetian affair by Andrea di Robilant, read by Paul Hecht with Lisette Lecat and Jeff Woodman
  2. White coolies by Betty Jeffrey, read by Beverley Dunn
  3. Benjamin Franklin: an American life by Walter Isaacson, read by by Nelson Runger
  4. Sima's undergarments for women by Ilana Stanger-Ross, read by Vanessa Hart
  5. Call me Ted [sound recording] by Ted Turner with Bill Burke, read by Ted Turner with Ted stories read by Nick Sullivan ... [et al.]; featuring a conversation between Wolf Blitzer and Ted Turner
  6. The inimitable Jeeves. Vol. 1 by P.G. Wodehouse, read by Martin Jarvis
  7. Full circle by Michael Palin, read by the author
  8. The witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, read by Mary Beth Hurt
  9. The daughter of time by Josephine Tey, read Derek Jacobi
  10. A wrinkle in time by Madeleine L'Engle, read by the author
  11. A confederacy of dunces by John Kennedy Toole, read by Barrett Whitener
  12. One dangerous lady by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, read by Barbara Rosenblat
  13. The devil's advocates: [greatest closing arguments in criminal law] by Michael S. Lief and H. Mitchell Caldwell, read by full cast
  14. Things I overheard while talking to myself by Alan Alda, read by the author
  15. Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell, read by Scott Sowers
  16. Peak by Roland Smith, read by Ramon de Ocampo
  17. "Hello", lied the agent: and other bullshit you hear as a Hollywood TV writer by Ian Gurvitz, read by the author
  18. Rocket men: the epic story of the first men on the moon by Craig Nelson, read by Richard McGonagle
  19. Secret confessions of the Applewood PTA by Ellen Meister, read by Lisa Kudrow
    Stone cold by Robert B. Parker, read by Robert Forster
  20. Mates, dates and portobello princesses by Cathy Hopkins, read by Melissa Eccleston
  21. Committed: a skeptic makes peace with marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by the author