Thursday, December 24, 2015

Clementine Churchill: an undersung hero

I just finished reading Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell.

Clementine Churchill lived an amazing life. She was incredibly under appreciated, both in her time, and now. I feel like I know a fair amount about Eleanor Roosevelt who was an incredible advocate. Clementine Churchill may well have done more for Britain (and the free world) than Eleanor, but has received almost no credit.

Born into impoverished nobility, she was about a decade younger than Winston Churchill. This book draws heavily from the copious correspondence between Winston and Clementine. They were generally not model parents, and the book does not sugar coat their shortcomings in this area. Clementine was privy to most of what Winston dealt with (including state secrets). She advised and challenged Winston, and was often the only one who could challenge him. She tempered him in many ways, and often re-wrote speeches and memos.

For a book where you know how it will end (there are no secrets about history), it was a gripping read. I even pushed it ahead of other books on my "to read" pile.

Monday, December 21, 2015

ALA Midwinter 2016

Here is my tentative schedule for ALA Midwinter. Note that it is still tentative!

This year Midwinter is VERY early. I'll be in Boston starting the night of January 6, and leaving on the 12th. (If you are looking in December, you will have to page forward to January to see anything in the calendar view. I have not figured out how to make "Agenda" the default view.") Clicking on any event will show details. And do note the time zone note on the bottom. Here, I am seeing things in the Central Time zone, not sure how true that is for others.

Here is my tentative schedule for ALA Midwinter. Note that it is still tentative!

This year Midwinter is VERY early. I'll be in Boston starting the night of January 6, and leaving on the 12th. (If you are looking in December, you will have to page forward to January to see anything in the calendar view. I have not figured out how to make "Agenda" the default view.") Clicking on any event will show details. And do note the time zone note on the bottom. Here, I am seeing things in the Central Time zone, not sure how true that is for others.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ALA Committee Volunteering - part of the inside story

First of all, if you want to volunteer for an ALA Committee, now is the time.

The deadline is November 6, 2015. Here is a link to the online form.

Important note (added 10/28): You are limited to volunteering for 3 positions. (That is the maximum number of volunteer positions you are permitted to hold at any one time.)

The use of this form, which automates many of the database and communication processes involved in volunteering for, being selected by an appointment chair, being notified of a possible appointment, selecting or refusing the appointment, and being added to a committee roster is available to all ALA divisions and round tables. Currently, United for Libraries,FAFLRT, GODORT, LHRT, LRRT, LSSIRT, STORT, and VRT are not using the form. Please contact them directly if you have an interest in volunteering.

So why use the form and what happens next?

The form populates a database that is available to staff (of course) and the volunteer leaders who are responsible for appointments. Those volunteer leaders include division Presidents-elect (me, right now - 2015/16), and the members of the Committee on Committees and Committee on Appointments. If you are interested in the distinction between these two committees and their responsibilities, see my (semi-ancient, but still accurate) post: ALA 101 - Part 5: Committees.

Since I am the President-Elect of ASCLA, I get to use this database. I'll be using it for two different things. First, the Committee on Appointments - which includes all my colleagues in the other divisions - works with the President-Elect of ALA to make some appointments. But, and this is critical, it is also what I will be using to make the appointments to all the ASCLA committees.

I can not repeat this often enough: If you want to serve on an ALA (or division) committee the fill out the form. Back in the day when I served on the Committee on Committees, it was all paper, spreadsheets, and emails. This new system is much smoother and slicker.

Yes, talk to someone if you want to be on a committee but

Fill Out The Form

Feel free to make comments - or otherwise contact me!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Happy Birthday, Blog - 10 years!

It is hard for me to believe that it has been ten years since I started this blog. But, yesterday, marked the 10th anniversary of the blog. I have published 584 posts - there are some still in draft mode which may, or may not see the light of day.

I am in my third job, and state, since starting. I have had a lot of changes in my life which I could never have imagined ten years ago. Some are good. Some were much more painful.

The blog has varied in purpose. Originally, it had a good deal of library content - including reflections on my day job, and information/thoughts about ALA. I was serving on the ALA Executive Board - actually, I was more than half way through.

There was a time when the blog was just a parking place for links - mostly library related.

More recently it has become a more personal and philosophical forum, but still with a focus on libraries.

I don't get many comments, but I do get a lot of views. I guess, I don't worry about that any more. It amazes me to see that ALA 101, written in 2006, still gets traffic. I did go and look at it last year, and it is still pretty accurate.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thoughts on Vacation (2015)

Miles traveled             4,265
MPG (trip)                  28.4
# states visited             14
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida (for dinner), Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island
# state capitals             7
(in the order first visited/driven through): Baton Rouge, Montgomery, Atlanta, Richmond, Providence, Dover, Columbia

Shore light
There is something about the air and light near the shore. Artists have known this for years, which is why there are so many seascapes. To me, I feel like I can tell that I am getting close to the shore just by the nature of the light – along with the vegetation. Certainly the American Impressionists (Childe Hassam, John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, Mary Cassat) knew this. It is why (in my opinion) so many of their paintings are from the shore. To me, it feels like they have been able to capture the light and feel of the shore.

For me, approaching the shore, feels like coming home.

I love the beach. Always have. The part of this trip which was not about family and reunion was about the beach. (And one part was both family and beach.) On this trip I had the opportunity to visit a number of beaches and beach areas, some of them new.

My trip started with time on the Alabama Gulf coast. A couple of years ago, I discovered the joy of the Gulf beaches. Facebook friends know that I visited there just before Easter. The sand is soft, the water is warm. What is not to like?

Rhode Island – My family has been visiting the Rhode Island shore for generations.
Great-great grandparents owned property on the beach which was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938. The family legend has it that the “cottages” stood about where Misquamicut State Park is currently located. I headed to Matunuk Town Beach which is where my mother used to visit when she would spend a month at the shore after her retirement. I remember going to Carpenter’s Beach (about ½ mile away) even as a very young child (and probably before the town beach was developed).

The water is cold!! Probably in the mid 50s. Much to cold to swim, even on a very hot day. It looks like more beach has been lost to the ocean. The boardwalk at the Town Beach is much shorter than the last time I was there, and the pavilion with the rest rooms has been moved inland, again. The sand texture is fairly rough, and there are a large number of smoothly polished small stones/pebbles. One of the summer passtimes at the beach is often collecting “interesting rocks.” One of my sisters had family members collect them one summer and she painted our names on each rock, and then took photos of them for the family calendar (and other crafty uses). It is a beach I know and love.

Connecticut – Truth be told, I did not actually go to the beach. I drove through several beach towns, and ate a meal sitting on the dock in one of them. Like Rhode Island the beaches are rocky, and the water is very cold – even at the end of summer.

Driving through Delaware – I took the Turnpike through New Jersey, and got off the Interstate right after the Delaware River bridge. I headed down DE-1 towards the shore. Delaware sure has a lot of tolls. There was a toll for the bridge, and two tolls along the state highway – which was generally limited access to Lewes and the beginning of the beaches. The road goes through the edge of Dover Air Force Base, and through lots of rolling farm country. It was a pretty drive. At Rehoboth Beach the road turns due south and goes along the shore. It is, in some ways, a typical beach community. Strips with shops specializing in “beach activities” (towels, surf stuff, kites) and seasonal bars and restaurants. Since I was there right after Memorial Day, it did not feel overcrowded – school had not let out for the summer. It reminded me of parts of Cape Cod, in terms of the business communities. There were hotels, and silver-grey, cedar shingled cottages and buildings. I got glimpses of the ware from time to time. There were only a couple of tall hotels/condos. Most of the buildings were no more than 2 – 3 stories tall. [The Delaware Official Transportation Map is physically about the same size as many other state maps. Because Delaware is so small, that means that the scale is about 4 mile per inch. A fair amount of detail is on the map!]

Maryland Eastern Shore/Virginia Eastern Shore – Delaware Highway 1, becomes MD Highway 528 at the border, just below Fenwick Island (DE). I spent the night in Ocean City, and wandered the beach a very little bit after doing the work-related webinar (as scheduled). There is not a lot of length of beach along the highway in Maryland. Just south of Ocean City, the road crosses the bay and goes inland. South of Ocean City are Assateague (in Maryland) and Chincoteague (in Virginia – but they are parts of the same island). I did not go to the park/seashore/wildlife refuge. Instead, I drove down US 113 and US 13 into Virginia. It is very different than the shore and road in Delaware and beginning of Maryland. It is clearly “beach territory” but you don’t get glimpses of the water. Many of the buildings (houses, condos, and even motels/businesses) are cedar-shingled which turn that wonderful gray near the ocean. Along the beach, there were not only many “traditional” older hotels (4-6 stories), but also a number of “resorts” with 10 – 12 floors. (Those were more reminiscent of the Gulf area.)

Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel – I was sort of disappointed in the bridge/tunnel. It was longer to get to from the Maryland shore – about 3 hours. When the person at the hotel said that, I did not believe him, but he was right.

It is expensive, $13.00 was the toll – one way, and they collect at each end. The bridges are no higher off the water than the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge. Like that bridge, there are a pair of spans with two lanes in each direction, but for the tunnel parts, the lanes collapse and there are only two lanes in the tunnels – one in each direction. There are two tunnels. I stopped at the Virginia Beach side where there is a viewing spot and a restaurant/gift shop.

I continued on US-13 through Virginia Beach, and connected with VA-168 to head south into North Carolina. I picked up US-158 to get me into the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks – I can see the charm. I can see why folks like to visit here, and even more so, why people live here. The beaches are wonderful! There are so many houses, and not nearly as many hotels/resorts. There are houses right along the dunes/beach. I stayed in Kill Devil Hills in an older motel from which I could walk right out the back door to the dunes and beach. I guess I should not have been so surprised, but while the air was nice and warm, the water, even this far south, was still pretty cold. According to the sign on the lifeguard stand, the water temperature was 58 F. Too cold for swimming!

There is a road closer to the shore (NC-12), which has mostly homes and a few of the motels. The “main drag” – a long block away – has more of the chain restaurants and newer construction. It is the business street. I really liked the area where I stayed, and am thinking about a return trip.

Ferries – I continued along down NC-12 the whole length of the Outer Banks. I stopped at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. There are a lot of protected areas along the route, and not a lot of development. It is an incredibly beautiful area. I took the free ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke, and then through Ocracoke to take the ferry (pay) to Cedar Island. The first ferry used to be about a 30 minute trip, but the shoals – which had been dredged – keep returning, so the ferry now takes a longer route through Pamilco Sound for an hour ride. On Ocracoke I had two choices: to go to Swan Quarter or Cedar Island. Since the latter was a shorter ride, and seemed to take me further towards my goal for the night that is the one I chose.

These two ferry boats, and the one I took earlier this year to Dauphin Island in Alabama, all reminded me of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry. They are all smaller ferries than some others I have taken (Bridgeport/Port Jefferson, Block Island, Hyannis-Nantucket, Woods Hole-Nantucket, and even the Canal Street Ferry in New Orleans). They were all had open air space for the vehicles and a raised bridge which was much narrower than the vessel itself. The last ferry I took (Swan Island) was larger than the Hatteras Ferry. It had a small, enclosed lounge for passengers.

Back to the Gulf/Orange Beach to Biloxi – After returning to the mainland, I headed inland. I spent the night in Florence (SC) which is where I picked up I-95 for a bit. I then headed through Colombia (SC), Atlanta, and Montgomery (AL) before heading south before my final beach stay, back where my beach trip started: Orange Beach AL.

I was going to add some comments about sand and the nature of sand, but this is so long, I think I will make that a separate post.

Monday, June 22, 2015

ALA Annual Conference - Where will I be?

Since I have gone back into the pattern of posting this kind of info, here is my tentative, proposed schedule for ALA Annual. Note that it will change dramatically as I import events over the next day or so.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ALA Elections 2015 - Some Reflections

First of all, wow. It was an interesting election.

All of the results are posted on the ALA web site, here.

One of the documents that I particularly looked at was 2015 Election Response Rate by Ballot. With all the sections of divisions and all the round tables, there are 81 different ballots. (Yes, you read that right, 81!) Most people only get some of them. How many, depends on how much you pay in dues and how the particular division or round table is structured. What I was interested in was the participation rate.

Both for ALA as a whole (Ballot 0 - Officers), like in the local, state, and national elections, the turnout of voters is not always what we would like. It is usually lower. But, I am proud to say that the election in which I was a candidate had one of the highest participation rates.

My visual inspection (I could not quickly grab it an put it in Excel for sorting, but may try again) shows these as the top participation rate groups:


This means that ASCLA was the only division with more than 30% participation. It is the smallest division (615 members eligible to vote). But it clearly reinforces my contention that it is the easiest to get involved in - I believe that the voting participation rate shows that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALA Elections 2015 - about me

Edited 5/11 - no part 2 or part 3!

If you have not received your ALA ballot, they are distributed over several days.

Some of you may have noticed my name out there. This went out to a discussion list a little bit ago:
ASCLA 2015 Elections are Approaching!
Please click on this link to view the following ASCLA members who will be running for election for ASCLA offices in the 2015 Elections. Please join me in thanking these members for agreeing to stand for election for an ASCLA office and be sure to vote in the Spring elections! Voting begins on March 24, 2015 through May 1, 2015 @ 11:59 PM CDT.
Because of my standing for election as Vice President/President-Elect of ASCLA. For those who do not know, ASCLA  is the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, one of the divisions of the American Library Association.

It is the smallest of the ALA divisions. For more about ALA and ASCLA, visit the tab ALA 101 (on this blog).

So, here is what I said in my statement of professional concerns:

I have often recommended to new members of ALA to find a home in ALA with others whose work is like theirs. ASCLA has been ALA's smallest division and because of the small size, it is possible to get to know people and to become involved.

I did some simple analysis of recent membership trends, and plotting ASCLA's membership against ALA's membership shows that ASCLA has retained members better than ALA. That does not mean that we do not have to continue to work to recruit members, but it does show that ASCLA has value for ALA members. I have many contacts across the association, and want to leverage the knowledge those people have, to make ASCLA even more successful. Part of the perspective which I bring is from having been active in the larger organization. I believe that my experience, and contacts, will help position ASCLA for the future.
I ask for the vote for those of you who are ASCLA members.

I did stand for this office once before, in 2000. In that election, I was not successful. The difference was four (4) votes. In a way I was relieved. I changed jobs after agreeing to run, and it would not have been as good a fit as it is now. I also had a great deal less experience with ALA.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cruise: Some thoughts

Two Carnival ships in CozumelGoing on a cruise has been a bucket list item for a while. But I had always resisted. I was concerned that I would feel trapped on the boat, and be unable to escape.

A friend suggested, and I wound up going on a cruise for Mardi Gras week. The cruise was on Carnival, and was out of Galveston. We stopped at Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Progresso - all in the Yucatan.

This was not a small ship. Most of my prior trips on a ship have been on ferries. I've been on several short river ferries, and on both the Point Judith/Block Island and the Nantucket ferries. Even the Nantucket ferry vessels are quite small by comparison! This ship had elevators going to 9 floors for most of the ship. In some places the ship goes to the 12th floor. Oh, the they count the decks the way the computer scientists do: starting at zero (the staff quarters).

The length of the ship was amazing. Some of the floors/decks had over 450 rooms. Because of the size, even with fairly rough seas, there was very little motion which I felt. There were, however, times when it was obvious that there was motion ... the water was sloshing in the pool.

It was a great trip. At two of the ports, I took excursions to visit Mayan ruins, which greatly expanded my knowledge of the culture and people of that area of the world.

Will I go on a cruise again? Probably. Here are the things I would do differently:
  1. Get an outside cabin. I think it will be worth the extra cost to be able to see. It certainly will enhance the experience of being at sea.
  2. Go as part of a larger group. I was surprised at the demographics of my fellow passengers. There were a good number of families - sometimes 3 generations. There were also more groups of young adults. (And by that I mean the 20-30 year olds.) They also tended to travel in "packs," and seemed to have a great time. There actually were fewer "old folks" than I expected. But even many of them were traveling in groups of 2 - 4 couples. Those "uncoupled" seemed to be lost in the shuffle.
  3. I would take more advantage of some of the entertainment options. I went to a couple of the shows, but I generally avoided them. The ones I went to were enjoyable.
  4. Bring more, dressier clothes for evening wear. I packed mostly for beach/pool and the "jungle" expeditions.
I did a lot of reading. That was one thing I did right, I brought more than enough books. (Always a concern for a reading librarian!)

Here are some of the photos from the cruise and land excursions.

I will enhance this post with photos (and will note that in an edited set of comments here).

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

Front CoverAre you a closet voyeur like me? When I am driving at night, particularly on back roads rather than on the Interstate, I will pass a house with one light on in the window, and wonder what the story is for why that one single light is on.

Well, that is part of the premise of this new and popular (among my friends, anyway) novel.

Part of the plot centers on one of the main narrators talking about her thoughts as she watches a particular house on her daily train commute.

The story is much more complicated than that simple premise, since the first narrator used to live a couple doors down from the flat she is imagining the story of.

Hawkins uses shifting narrators (clearly labeled) and shifting time sequences (also clearly labeled) to tell an interesting tale.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Books Read 2014

    How We Got to Now: Six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson ARC
    Hand to Mouth: Living in Boostrap America by Linda Tirado ARC
    My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh ARC
    Perfectly Miserable: Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town by Sarah Payne Stuart ARC
    Small Victories: Spotting Improbably Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott ARC
    Hope and New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names by Sally Asher
    America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life by Benoit Denizet-Lewis
    Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique ARC
    The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman, illustrated by David McPhail ARC - Holiday House party at ALA/Vegas
    The Girls of Gettysburg by Bobbi Miller ARC - Holiday House party at ALA/Vegas
    Mambo in Chinatown: A Novel by Jean Kwok ARC
    Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi ARC
    Begue's Recipies of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery by Elizabeth Kettenring Dutrey Begue, forward and revised recipes by Poppy Tooker
    Creativity: the perfect crime by Philippe Petit ARC
    At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon ARC
    When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs graphic novel [See blog post]
    The Poisoned Pawn: An Inspector Ramirez Novel by Peggy Blair ARC
    Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
    Minister without Portfolio: A Novel by Michael Winter ARC
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    In Paradise: A Novel by Peter Matthiessen ARC
    Secret of Magic: A Novel by Deborah Johnson ARC
    The Panama Hat Trail: A journey from South America by Tom Miller
    The House on Coliseum Street by Shirley Ann Grau
    Some Nerve: Lessons learned while becoming brave by Patty Chang Anker ARC

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

ALA Midwinter 2015 - Monday/Tuesday Notes

Monday Notes

Mondays at Midwinter always begin early. The 15th Annual MLK Celebration took place at 6:30 am. There was a larger turnout than in prior years – even with the bad weather. After a hymn, there was a selection of readings from the works of Marin Luther King, Jr. by representatives of the organizing groups. This was followed by the keynote speech by Cornel West and a call to action by my friend Satia Orange. The singing of “We Shall Overcome” was very poignant.

A friend invited me to sit in for the LITA breakfast, which precedes the “LITA Town Hall Forum” which is part of LITA’s planning process. I had the opportunity catch up with some friends with whom I had not yet connected.

 PLA is in the process of developing some tools to use as measures of outcomes of library services. It is being developed by the Performance Measurement Task Force. Their meeting was scheduled for 6 hours (!). I attended the beginning.

 I attended the beginning of the second session of the ASCLA Board of Directors and had the opportunity to hear ALA Presidential candidate Julie Todaro. I left to attend the ALA Executive Board Candidates Forum because several of those candidates had asked me for advice. However, the session was moved up in time because the business at ALA Council II did not last as long as budgeted. I did attend the APA [American Psychological Association] Lunch & Learn @ ALA Midwinter 2015 where some new features of their products were presented. It is interesting that vendors/exhibitors are the ones who provide most of the “content” or learning opportunities at Midwinter. Midwinter is technically a “meeting” not a conference, but a time and place for the Association’s committees to meet and do business. In the evening, I attended a social/networking event which I have been attending for over a decade.

Tuesday Notes

I packed and headed to the Convention Center. I wanted to get there early to be sure that I was there for the Memorials and Tributes. (I helped write, and seconded one of the Memorials.) I also wanted to get set up to be part of the LSSC course webinar this morning. I am pleased to report that the webinar went well – without a hitch. I purposely did not have a microphone, but I did try out my laptop web cam, and at the end of the session was able to show the room.

Monday, February 02, 2015

ALA Midwinter 2015 - Sunday Notes

My morning began with breakfast with a state librarian from another state (whom I consider a friend as well as colleague) and a vendor which let us talk about our vision of the future for delivering e-books to state populations.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity, at two different times, to visit the exhibits. It is always interesting and a way to find out about new technology and trends. E-book platforms (delivering materials from various vendors/sources) seems to be a growing field. Maybe this falls under the topic of “user experience.”

My lunch was at the OCLC Update which is always a well-attended event. I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of social time with someone with whom I had spent some time in service on ALA Council.

The Washington Office program “Tell the IRS” was disappointing and encouraging at the same time. The IRS representative did not make it to the conference due to the weather. However, it was Emily Sheketoff, Director of ALA’s Washington Office who ran the program and committed to getting libraries/librarians at the table in discussions with the IRS.

2015 Chicago Blizzard from the
Conrad Hilton Suite
I was pleased to see the attendance at the BARC/Division Leadership Meeting. There were many more people who attending this year that I remember from when I was on the Planning and Budget Assembly or on the ALA EB Finance and Audit Committee.

The PLDS Statistical Report Advisory Committee Meeting was very focused on that particular survey.

My official day ended with a gathering to remember Don Sager. Don was long active in ALA and was someone who had quietly helped me in my days on Council. Don also was the husband of former ALA President Sarah Ann Long.

I watched the Super Bowl with mostly Seahawks fans in the Conrad Hilton Suite. The suite sits very high, at the top of the Hilton on Michigan Ave. The snow was swirling and I could hear the wind constantly whistling (in the fireplace of the suite).