Friday, December 21, 2007

Living in the Library

Andy sent me this quirk from the Chronicle, "Who Needs a Dorm During Finals?"
The holidays push everyone to do quirky things. Especially students. And even me. I have been obsessively tracking the status on the Christmas cards we are sending out this year. (They have not yet arrived at our house, where I can then redistribute.)

Perhaps it is because we've never actually sent Christmas cards before. And the ones we're receiving from friends with 4+ kids BEFORE Christmas are stacking up. No longer do I feel justified in saying "but we have a new baby, and I'm back to work, and we've had 16" of snow, and I have been busy sussing out the Presidential candidates for the rest of the nation..."

No, it may just be that the holidays drive us to it. Maybe it's the prospect of being reckoned and coming up short--whether it be your final exam grades, your year-end budget review or simply the perfect Christmas gift. We all wish for perfection in ourselves, I think, and sometimes this quest takes us to interesting places.

Like the library. While you celebrate this year, take a moment to remember your salad days, your youth and do something quirky. Just for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Added a bell and a whistle

If you're scanning in your feedreader, click over to the Web page. I added a poll feature and a slideshow element on the left. Enjoy! (And take the poll...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Been elfed

I've been elfed twice today. The Elf Yourself is making the rounds...

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Littlest Birds have the Prettiest Songs

I can't remember if I told you that we were in New Orleans for the Thanksgiving holiday. Saw plenty of rebuilding going on. Imagine my surprise when some of my favorite Canadian singers, the Be Good Tanyas, had a YouTube video shot in the Big Easy. Cool.

I was inspired to visit YouTube because I've been making progress on the Privacy report, specifically the section on Library Directors (PDF). And YouTube topped the Social Media charts at 72% usage for Directors.
Plus I was pleased to see that for Directors ages 22-49, social networking site usage is on par with the rest of the U.S. population (38%). (p. 4-8) Awesome. We're normal. (Not that I'm a library director, but you know what I mean...)

But the plot thickens because this morning I noticed an article from CNET saying Gartner was warning companies not to invest too heavily in social networking infrastructure for business reasons yet.

Although Academic Library Directors are ahead of the curve: 27% of them (you?) report that you use Social Networking sites as part of your business. 23% of them (you?) use social media sites (like YouTube) as part of your business.

Of course, this is somewhat of a big DUH for academics, because we've all been going where the users are...and they are on Facebook and YouTube in droves. So we are, too. Likely Gartner wasn't thinking of libraries, when they issued their statement.

Or maybe libraries are the smallest birds in this business scenario...

Friday, December 14, 2007

The OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Midwinter 2008

Ah-ha! I hadn't realized everyone was already making their ALA MW 2008 dance cards. Before Christmas! You all are so industrious.
Here's the lowdown.
Please come.
Everyone is invited:

OCLC Blog Salon
ALA Midwinter 2008

Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, January 13
5:30 - 8 pm, Loews Commonwealth, A1.

Very close to the Convention center [map], so finish chatting up your favorite exhibitor and come on over for festivities, fun and frolic. Come as you are--no need to wear the formal gown, tux and tails unless you just want to...

George is immortalized

You know you have come into your own when you are featured in a comic strip!

Thanks to Unshelved for the good laugh this morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Philanthropic snow

Eric sent me this piece today:
Philanthropist offering cash for museum, library membership

Right here in New Hampshire. Where we are getting blanketed by a beautiful snowfall...
Now the race is on for 2008, to see who can bring in the most new members.
Awesome on one hand that a philanthropist would see libraries, museums and historical societies as worthy. Challenging on the other: Are we being artificially propped up? Why or why not?
(Hint: Philanthropists built a lot of the libraries in the U.S., so at least in this country I would say there is a precedent!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Evergreen Wins Mellon Award

Congratulations to my friends Lamar Veatch, David Singleton, and Julie Walker, and the whole Georgia Public Library Service Evergreen team, for winning the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration on Monday! This is a well-deserved honor for their groundbreaking open source integrated library system.

Full disclosure: Lamar serves on OCLC's Members Council, but I have known him for a lot longer than I have been at OCLC.

Holiday Greetings from OCLC Research

Those wild and crazy guys and gals in OCLC Research have worked up their annual holiday greeting card, showing off flex technology and the latest in WorldCat and Dewey Browser accouterments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Remedy for Library Jargon

One of the things I tend to rail against in my talks is the use of library jargon. Now, thanks to a circuitous route from my fellow IAG'er Eric Childress via Mike Burkett of WebJunction, I have a remedy to suggest: a website titled "Library Terms that Users Understand." The site is the brainchild of John Kupersmith, a reference librarian at UC Berkeley. From the summary:

"This site is intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It serves as a clearinghouse of usability test data evaluating terminology on library websites, and suggests test methods and best practices for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology."

This is bookmark worthy! and the AskEraser

If anyone else is still knee-deep in the new Privacy Report like I am, then this headline might have caught your eye: Puts a Bet on Privacy(NYT)

Basically, has put a feature on, where you can immediately delete your query. Mostly delete. The article surmises that most Americans don't care about privacy unless/until something happens. Of course, see past libraryland discussions...

Interesting to see if this feature will attract a new set of users. What do you think?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Science Fair projects trumped all

I went to my first Hanukkah party yesterday. We played Texas Hold 'Em Driedel and went home reeking of fried food smell. It was great!

'Tis also the season for Science Fair projects at public libraries around the U.S.
(And you thought it was the holiday shopping season!)

We had an interesting discussion today about a trial program we've been running on Yahoo and MSN, to show paid search results for meaningful content in Worldcat. Science Fair projects and related content has been the clear victor, in the results. Likely any Public Library Reference librarian who's driven the desk a year or two could tell you that, but it was good to see the online world bore out the same results.

Recipes were also a big hit--little wonder with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in November and baking season in full swing.

Dust off that online cookbook display and consider digitizing a few always-out cookbooks--people are looking for them online!

3. "Resume samples"
4. "Property Tax"
5. "Tax Forms"

rounded out the top 5 visit results. We limited this test to U.S. audiences only, if I remember correctly. Shows you what at least some of America is thinking about:
How can I do my holiday shopping and deduct it from my taxes?

Friday, December 07, 2007

JetBlue has WiFi

Whoah--it's the last frontier: now you can be connected on flights.
JetBlue is set to offer WiFi on select flights.
There will be rioting on the streets: a plane was the one place you could escape the inbox!!
But it only works with Yahoo mail and IM and Blackberries right now.

Note: JetBlue forgot to mention anything about the announcement on their Web site. Their CEO blog hasn't been updated since October! (Okay so he might be a little bit busy running the company...)

Amazon Kindle

Okay, who amongst us has tried a Kindle?

Disclaimer--I know this is no longer new news but remember I've been away in babyland. So it was news to me. And yes, I'm casting about for Christmas gifts. Various news outlets covered it--Newsweek among them. Here's a Cnet review of Kindle vs. Sony eReader.

I saw in the comments that people were bummed they couldn't check out library books to them.
That makes you feel good, huh?

The video makes it look really appealing.

They are backordered now, and for $399 I might think about an iPhone instead. But I heard all kinds of grief about the iPhone because you can't feel the keys. So it is hard to text while you drive, have the phone in your pocket, etc.

But texting while driving. I can't condone it but I can't say I haven't done it, either.

It also randomly reminds me of something I heard the other day--that advocates of the blind don't like the Prius because it's too quiet!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New librarians, new ways of reading

Here are two articles I recently read and found very interesting.

"The New Librarians" is a positive look at several Canadian academic librarians who are blazing some new paths. None the ideas will blow away anyone reading this blog, but the setting is a change: it's not a library publication, it's a university journal, University Affairs, which bills itself as "Canada's magazine on higher education." (I may have cribbed this one from Lorcan Dempsey's blog; if so, I apologize to him and his readers!)

Tam Dalrymple, one of OCLC's terrific reference librarians, sent me this article, "How Reading Is Being Reimagined," by Matthew Kirschenbaum, from the December 7 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education's "The Chronicle Review." This article is a brief but powerful counterweight to the recent To Read or Not to Read report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Google and Its Enemies"

No matter how you feel about Google's Library Project, you may find ammunition for your point of view in an article in the December 10th issue of The Weekly Standard by Jonathan V. Last, called "Google and Its Enemies." The funniest single quote:

"Google has, as they say, all the right enemies. Anytime the ALA, Microsoft, France, a trade guild, and a bunch of trial lawyers are lined up on one side of an argument, the other side is going to look extremely attractive."

Incidentally, he actually doesn't like what Google is doing.

London Online 2007

A shout out to those of you at London Online this week. Not a whole lot of chatter about it yet around here...I am sure that will change soon enough.

Saw a Jimmy photo on Flickr. He was the keynote. There's a Q and A in the Guardian insert (PDF). The article starts on page 10.

Here's the most interesting bit, from the perspective of the world's largest library cooperative:
Where do you see Wikipedia in ten
JW: When I think about Wikipedia in ten years I
mostly have been focussing my attention on the
growth of the languages of the developing world.
So I’ve been to South Africa twice this year so far.
I’m going again in November and again in March.
I’m really trying to promote the growth in the
languages of Africa because right now we don’t
have a lot of content there. One of the things I
look at when I look at long term trends is there’s
about a billion people online now and we expect
to see another billion coming online in the next 10
years or so. Not from the US or Japan or places like
that- we’re already online for the most part. It’s
coming from the next stage- South America, India,
Africa. All joining the global conversation.

But it's also important, for that matter, to the neighborhood branch librarian. That's the beauty of what you (we) do, as librarians: you bring the world to people!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Words of wisdom for group blogs?

I was just having a discussion with a group of people yesterday about different ways to set up a group blog and manage content, posting, editorial direction, etc.

I know how we do it here at IAG (organized chaos!)...but how do you manage the group blogs you participate in? Are you assigned a *beat*? Is it willy-nilly? Is it "Alice posts every Friday." Or all of these things and then some?

Inquiring minds wants to know...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Long live ILL

Or Resource sharing, as I am wont to call it by my brand-hat-wearing self.

One of my colleagues sent me a college student's post The Interlibrary Loan Blues this morning about the agony of waiting for his ILL-requested book. The suspense of it basically takes over his mental life--that's how important ILL can be for people.

So just when you start to think that everything is electronic and who actually uses monographs anymore, anyway? (Much less is willing to wait for them?) Just read Mr. Plexiglass to yourself and be reassured.

And a completely nonrelated, gratuitous photo taken 9 weeks ago...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Local Government Managers and Public Libraries"

For all you public librarians out there:

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) sent a mailing to its members yesterday called "Local Government Managers and Public Libraries: Partners for a Better Community." The paper was also shared this morning on the state librarians' listserv, courtesy of my own state librarian, Jo Budler.

The report details ways in which city or county managers can work more effectively with public library directors and staff to achieve their community priorities. The research and writing of the paper was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is part of the Foundation's ongoing work to strengthen public library advocacy.

This paper would be a great spark for opening new lines of communication with local government managers. There are several other good papers on library-local government cooperation available from ICMA, so check it out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I've Been Doing

So what, you might ask, have I been doing?

I will spare you the litany of boring diapers, wipes, goo-goo, ga-ga mumbo-jumbo.

But I have seen how the other half lives. The other half being the men and women in our (this is geared for public libraries) communities who descend upon our stacks, our computers, our DVD piles...during normal business hours.

I have always wondered what the rest of the world does, while we all go to work and stare at screens, sit in meetings and talk on phones. Now I know! They go on walks(!), they volunteer for political campaigns (!), they take naps (!), they do laundry mid-week (!), and they scoff at the idea of needing Microsoft Outlook to help them organize their day(!!!)

Okay, maybe some of them use Outlook. But I seriously unplugged and mysteriously feel no worse the wear for it. I happily admit to having a very large GAP in my blog, news and magazine reading. But I have a very large STASH of photos with family members on beaches, at sunsets, around dining room tables and yes, even in Jackson Square, New Orleans.

Now obviously I am not recommending a wholesale mass exodus of the workforce OR of technology. Otherwise who would be around to read my pontifications? But as a temporary realignment, a small re-engagement with some of the people we's a great mini-sabbatical I can encourage, to help one remember that the world does not end with deadlines, agendas and achievements.

Sunshine can bring happiness. As can warm cookies from the oven, or to notice the tomato plant that has valiantly hung on past a frost. These fleeting pleasures, born of leisure, were mine for a time.

So indulge those seeming vagabonds among you. They may be building memories.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alice is back!

Hello IAGers!

I am back, after 10 (count them, TEN) glorious weeks of maternity leave.

I loved (almost) every minute of it. There were a few diapers, crying moments, etc. I could probably stand to delete from the archive...

But I am officially back today and so far, so good.

Lots of stories to tell! None of them particularly interesting to anyone other than parents of young children. I tell you, I am in a whole new demographic but strangely--I am lovin it.

That said, it's also good to be back at work. It's all good.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Little More on MLA

I mentioned in my last post that I'd been at the Medical Library Association's Southern Chapter Conference this week. I gave a keynote, and my talk was followed by remarks and comments from two excellent responders, Michele Kraft and Gabe Rios.

Michele coined a term on the spot. Reacting to my comments about "disaggregation" and "re-aggregation" of information, she came up with the phrase "information fission" to describe the way multiple atoms of information from many sources slam together to release all sorts of new energy. I told her that I planned to steal this phrase; I'm kind of surprised she didn't use it in her terrific blog entry about the program!

Gabe quoted a terrific maxim that we should all have tattooed in a prominent location: "Information that is hard to find is information that will remain hardly found."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tongue Tied

Yesterday, I was in Charleston for the Medical Library Association's Southern Chapter conference. I used the church analogy there, as I have done in a couple of dozen speeches over the last year. When I got to the part where I say you can smell the "incense of the old books deteriorating on the shelf..." I accidentally said, "...the incest of the....INCENSE of..." Of course, if I had just elided over it, it may have gone unnoticed. But the moment I corrected myself, the audience erupted in laughter. After stammering for a few seconds, I resumed the speech. Three sentences later, when I usually say, "We aren't there to save their immortal souls..." it came out, "We aren't there to save their immoral souls..." More laughter, and then, as the room quieted, a voice from the back of the room announced, "Paging Doctor Freud!"

The worst of it was, at the end of the program, in the schmoozing afterwards, no one believed it was just a couple of slips of the tongue. They all thought I'd rehearsed this! What kind of reputation am I developing?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Did you nominate an LJ "Mover and Shaker"?

I received the following e-mail this afternoon from Marylaine Block, and she has had one of those disasters that could befall any of us. Read on:

Hi, George,

I'm writing the Movers and Shakers profiles again this year, and I'd appreciate your help getting the word out, especially in view of the calamity that befell the server that was supposed to be keeping track of the nominations. Could you post this on It's All Good, and on any lists you're involved with?

It's time once again for nominations for Library Journal's Movers and Shakers issue. This supplement to the March 15, 2008 issue will profile "50-plus up-and-coming individuals from across the United States and Canada - librarians, vendors, consultants, etc. - who are innovative, creative, and making a difference" in the profession.

If you already nominated people for Library Journal's Movers and Shakers, before November 5, we need you to go back and RENOMINATE those people, because due to a computer glitch, those nominations were not captured and stored on LJ's server. We are assured that the electronic nomination form is working, but if you prefer, you can supply all the information requested on the form and either fax it to 646-746-6734, or send it in an e-mail to Francine Fialkoff. The deadline has been extended to November 28.



Marylaine Block
Writer and Internet Librarian
336 375 2195

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

IL2007 & work with WebJunction - it's fun!

I'm at IL2007 and am having a great time. WebJunction people (pictured on our homepage here) are blogging our conference experiences here and I think we're all having a great time. Be sure to check it out if you'd like to hear more about what's happening at this year's festivities - you can also follow me at twitter if you want the play-by-play.

Meanwhile, applications are rolling in for three open Community positions on the WebJunction team. If you're interested in social networking tools and online community programming, or helping library service agencies build their own communities, please check out these current opportunities on the OCLC careers site (search for Seattle if you want to check out the jobs I'm referring to, or for WebJunction if you just want the general scoop), and LMK if you have questions!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Something else for us to hate

When I saw that ABC (that's the Australian Broadcasting Company) is broadcasting a new series called "The Librarians," I just had to go check out the web site of the show. All I can say is, I hope it gets imported to the US. It looks like it has nasty humor, stereotypes we can all sink our teeth into, and a knockout premise: the straight-laced library director is forced to hire her free-living ex-best friend as Children's Librarian to save her from jail (excuse me, gaol). Here's a quote from the director, just to get our knickers in a knot: "God loves all his children, but especially those who return their books on time."

I always thought that there was a great library-based sitcom just waiting to be produced. When I worked at a branch library in Buffalo in high school and college, I decided that our staff was basically the cast of M*A*S*H. We had the lovable colonel, our branch manager who let us get away with anything in pursuit of higher circulation and more people in the building and who turned a blind eye to a lot of the petty bureaucracy Central handed down. We had Frank and Hot-Lips, the new junior branch assistant, fresh out of library school, who was striving to be perfect and who ended up dating and later marrying one of the student assistants in the branch. (Don't go "yuck!" She was a senior in college when they started dating.) What made them Frank and Hot-Lips was that they didn't want anyone to know they were dating. One day, one of our regulars, a 10-year old terror named Shawn, announced to everyone in the library that she had seen the pair at a basketball game, and they were KISSING! We had the martinet from headquarters, a wily clerk who could make things magically appear as needed, and of course, the guard and I saw ourselves as Hawkeye and Trapper John (pre-BJ days).

Episodes of The Librarians are scheduled to be posted to the ABC website after they're broadcast. I can see myself eating up some bandwidth for this!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

sharing, privacy, trust, and vacation in our networked world

I started a week's vacation on Monday. I'm taking some time for a 'writing retreat' so that I can make my next deadline (Nov 1 - ahhh!) for the infamous book I'm writing about libraries and community building.

Serendipitous it was then that the new OCLC report on sharing, privacy, trust, and social networking was published online here (pdf) on Monday. It's perfect timing because it has such relevance to that 'other' work.

But because it also has such absolute relevance to my work at OCLC and with WebJunction, I couldn't help but pop in here and say 'hey! you should read this!' and invite everyone over to my other blog for early thoughts and highlights. As I say over there, there's more to come, I'm sure, as we dig into all those juicy details.

Back to my vacation -- very much looking forward to seeing some of you at Internet Librarian next week, BTW. If you're gonna be there and want to connect, my profile and schedule is up on the IL wiki.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Vision of Students Today

If you deal with anyone under the age of 22, you need to see this video, "A Vision of Students Today." It summarize much of what we have all experienced in a very real way, in less than five minutes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ohio Library Council Conference

I invested a good day at the Ohio Library Council Convention and Expo here in Columbus yesterday.

I spent about an hour in the exhibits area. Since Ohio public libraries continue to enjoy above average funding, many vendors and architects come to this conference.

The program I mentioned earlier on It's All Good about the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route came off very well. My colleague Chuck Harmon (who planned the Ohio portion of the route) had put together three moving photo montages with musical accompaniment to showcase the route's first official rides. Mario Browne drove over from Pittsburgh to talk about his involvement with the project and his work with the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health. We had about 40 people in attendance, and a useful and inspiring time was had by all.

LibraryThing's founder, Tim Spalding, did a very good (and very well-attended) presentation called, "Is Your OPAC Fun?" Short answer: probably not, but he had some excellent ideas about what to do to change that. LibraryThing continues to grow and add new features; they have over 285,000 registered users already.

Finally, I went to a presentation called "Crisis Communication: Sound Like a Star on the 6:00 News," by Bob Zajac of Highland Public Relations. He gave some excellent tips on how to prepare for the public relations fall out of a crisis (anything from a fire to a funding disaster to a challenge to your internet policies to an invasion by the June Taylor Dancers). Bob has many years of experience in TV news and public relations, and his ideas were down to earth and told with a nice leavening of humor.

Kudos to OLC on another excellent conference!

Monday, October 01, 2007

How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm?

I spent this past weekend in New York City with my wife, the long-suffering Joyce, and my grandson, Jake. Jake is a pretty smart kid, but his frame of reference continues to astound me.

We went to see the musical Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theater on Friday night. Joyce and I had seen it in London a couple of years ago, and thought Jake would be thrilled by the outstanding singing and dancing, and especially by the technical wizardry of the production. We were dead wrong. He was only occasionally interested in the show, and he seemed to be humoring Joyce and me most of the evening. (He was really looking forward to the visit to the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday.)

When I was the same age Jake is now, my birthday present from my parents was tickets to Melody Fair, an entertainment park and summer stock theater near Buffalo, to see The Music Man, starring Kolchak the Night Stalker himself, Darren McGavin, as Harold Hill. I'll never forget how exciting it was to see live actors doing amazing things, and when the North Tonawanda High School Band came down the aisle next to me, playing "Seventy Six Trombones," I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Surely Gabriel's horn could not have sounded as sweet as those trembling saxophones!

Of course, when I saw The Music Man, my family had only owned a TV for about three years. It had a 12 inch screen (the only screen in my life at that time), a set of rabbit ears (children, ask your parents...), and three channels which broadcast for about sixteen hours a day in black and white. I rarely went to the movies, except for the occasional drive-in that went on way past my bedtime.

This is NOT a harangue about how much better it was in the old days. Instead, I'm always stunned at how much more of the world Jake has seen, compared to me at that age. His horizons are so much broader.

There was a song that came out either during or immediately after World War I, titled "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" The song worried about whether the boys coming back from the front would still be interested in working a plow after they'd seen the lights of Paris. The song sounds like a novelty today, but the farm population of the United States dropped from roughly 35% of the population in 1910 to 1.84% of the population in 2002.

How can a child find wonder in a chimney sweep dancing clear around a proscenium arch, or Mary Poppins flying out over the audience to close the show, when he has seen the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies? So I wonder how we're going to keep people like Jake interested in my two biggest loves (other than the long-suffering Joyce, of course): libraries and theater.

Basically, if it doesn't have a screen, it doesn't hold Jake's interest. I have seen him concentrate for long stretches of time, playing Pokemon or building a room in Webkinz (parents, ask your children...), so I don't think it's ADD, and he loves soccer and baseball with a passion, so I don't think he's simply a couch potato with a proclivity for obesity (like his grandfather).

I don't really have any answers. In fact, after three days of chasing a 7-year old around Manhattan, I'm lucky I've made it this far through Monday. But I think we'd better come up with some answers if either of these traditions is going to survive another generation in any form we would recognize.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We're Number 931! We're Number 931!

Granted, I live in Columbus, Ohio, where the state religion is OSU football, so being number 931 isn't exactly going to make headlines here. But, OCLC's public version of the library database, is now #931 in Quantcast's list of most visited websites. (They currently rank about 20 million sites.) This is a dynamic rating, so when you click on that link, the number may have shifted. The best part is we beat!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Free Lewis and Clark Map Sets for Libraries

Regular readers of "It's All Good" know that I've been working with the good folks at Adventure Cycling Association on marketing the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route to and through libraries. Now, Adventure Cycling is offering a special gift for libraries. This information is courtesy of Julie Emnett, the Associate Development Director for Adventure Cycling Association.


In 2007, Adventure Cycling received a grant from the National Park Service to update, reprint and distribute our Lewis & Clark bicycle route maps, originally created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the epic journey of Meriwether Lewis & William Clark.

Our maps give information about cultural interests and natural history, interpretive information and the location of bike shops, grocery stores, camp sites, motels and libraries and more — all services cyclists look for while on a bicycle tour.

Thanks to the National Park Service, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Program, Adventure Cycling will be giving away 275 of the eight-map sets.

Adventure Cycling Association would like offer the members of WebJunction an opportunity to order one of the free Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail route sets. Simply follow this link and complete the form by including the code GT-0001 at check-out and we will send you your free Lewis & Clark map set.*

*Limited to stock hand of the 275 original map sets. Only one per library. No exchanges or refunds will be offered.

Second Life to Have a Third Life?

The Library of Congress announced a $590,000 grant called "Preserving Virtual Worlds." In the words of the news release issued by Rochester Institute of Technology (one of four universities in the project), "The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore developing standards for preserving digital games and interactive fiction such as virtual worlds like Second Life. Second Life is an interactive multiplayer game in which people take on personas known as avatars." Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, is also participating in the project.

"Preserving Virtual Worlds is part of the Library of Congress's Preserving Creative America project, launched in August.

Time to update my avatar...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

School Boards Report

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has published a short but fascinating report on how students are using social networking sites. If you're expecting a hatchet job, you'll be sadly disappointed!

The NSBA report provides an overview of statistics compiled by Grunwald Associates for a longer report, which is available commercially from Grunwald. The report documents the high level of usage of social sites by students. OK, that's not headline news, but what might be is the frequency (59%) of students who say they use social networking to discuss educational topics, "including college or college planning; learning outside of school; news; careers or jobs; politics, religion or morals; and schoolwork" (page 1 of the report).

Even more interesting to me was the research into what the report calls "Nonconformists." These are the students who, according to the report, are more likely to influence other students about what software and sites to use; to recruit new users; and to organize events online. These students also tend to have score Bs and Cs in school, probably because they'd rather be networking than learning about the Peloponnesian War.

It seems to me if libraries (all types of libraries) made a concerted effort to recruit these kids to work in libraries, and actually empowered them to do what they do best instead of just having them shelve books, we might be on the cutting edge once in a while, instead of always playing catch up. Just a thought...

R.I.P., Times Select

Another experiment in paid content on the Web bites the dust at midnight tonight (Tuesday, September 18) as The New York Times discontinues its two year old experiment, Times Select.

Instead, the Times will open the last 20 years of its archive, and will also put its pre-1923 content online. The newspaper of record has been published since 1851. Selected articles from 1923 to 1987 will also be available.

See the official announcement here. The Times also issued an open letter to its subscribers here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ohio Library Council Conference

Here's a shameless plug for the upcoming Ohio Library Council (OLC) conference. The conference will be held October 10-12 in Columbus.

OLC frequently takes a different tack in its conferences, and this year is no exception. For one thing neither of the keynote speakers are from libraryland. Bill Strickland has developed a successful model for arts, education, and training organizations. Judson Laipply’s illustration of change in America, “Evolution of Dance,” is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube.

The conference has some interesting tracks, too, including "Organizational Redesign" and "Market and Products." When I was working for the Ohio Library Association (as OLC used to be called) in 1991, the president, Steve Wood, nearly got impeached for using the theme "Let's Hear It for the Customers!"

On Thursday during the conference, I will be introducing a program about the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. The speakers will be OCLC's own Chuck Harmon, who got me interested in this thing in the first place, and Mario Browne, Project Director, Center for Minority Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

I hope to see you there!

A Sheepish Apology

The other day, the unthinkable happened on my personal "My Yahoo" page. Under "It's All Good," I saw the message: "No items in past 7 days." How could we have let this lie fallow that long?

It's not like there isn't anything happening. IAG colleague Alice had her baby last week, for example. Mother and child are doing fine, Dad is doing well too, apparently. I had my first chance to be on a program with Jay Jordan, Cathy De Rosa, and library rock star Lorcan Dempsey, courtesy of Pam Bailey and the OCLC Western Service Center's Directors Days programs in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas. My wife and I hosted a visiting Ukrainian social entrepreneur for two weeks. Walt Crawford had a birthday. I've read a pile of great stuff recently. The one thing I haven't done is blogged about any of it.

So, faithful readers, please accept this apology, with the promise I'll try to do better. Several posts will follow shortly!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

socializing is fundamental

When I was in library school, I read The Social Life of Documents (published in the first issue of first monday, May 1996) and it changed me.

[from the introduction]: Seeing documents as the means to make and maintain social groups, not just the means to deliver information, makes it easier to understand the utility and success of new forms of document. This social understanding of documents should better explain the evolution of Web as a social and commercial phenomenon.

I started to think about librarians (as people) and libraries (as institutions) not only as archivists, collectors, organizers, retrievers, and deliverers of information, but also as facilitators of social engagement; building capacity in individuals (not just knowledge) and building communities (local and otherwise) through connection between those individuals.

My colleague Andy Havens recently reminded me where it had all started for me when he pointed out some very interesting historical data on library circ numbers (his words), recently published (in Book Circulation Per U.S. Public Library User Since 1856) by Douglas Galbai, a senior economist at the FCC. Mr Galbai's research indicates that "historically established institutions (libraries) significantly stabilize borrowing behavior." But why?

[from the conclusion]: Borrowing books from public libraries is well-connected to a variety of institutions and values. Much of the pleasure from reading may be derived from discussing a book with friends who have also read the book. The desire to discuss books among friends may constrain the rate at which individuals will read books. At the same time, persons may value going to the library as an activity in itself. Borrowing library items may be in part a by-product of interest in those visits.

Coincidentally, our upcoming survey investigating privacy and information sharing on the web indicates that people who engage in social networking actually read more than those who do not. Really? Coincidence?

Could it be, asked Mr. Havens, that social networking could be one reason that people read more? When I have people with whom I have enjoyable book and reading discussions, would I tend to read more?

Ya think??

More than a decade has passed since the publication of The Social Life of Documents. But discussions around the social nature of our work seems to only recently be getting recognition in the professional library discourse. Sometimes I'm encouraged and engaged by the conversation. Sometimes I think to myself: why are we disconnected from this history? And why is this taking so long?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


For months, I've been suggesting that libraries adopt the Netflix model to get rid of their overdue fines: library customers can keep out a certain number of books or other materials for as long as they want, no fines required. If you want another item when you are at the limit, return something. The library could recall the book when it's needed by someone else.

Instead of a library offering this service, welcome to BookSwim, "the Online Book Rental Library Club Netflix-style," to quote their banner. For about $24 a month, you can have up to five books on loan from the club for as long as you want.

How many libraries get $288 per capita annual support? As the person who pointed me to this site noted, "Like a library. But less free. Possibly more convenient..." Time is the new currency, even in this topsy-turvy economy. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Sweet Smell of eBooks

At least, if you get them from CafeScribe.

Apparently they plan to issue scratch-n-sniff stickers with their eBooks?
Read all about it in Wired Campus.

Also in today's NYT. If you think library fund-raising is bad, at least we're not cleaning bleachers. (At least, I hope you're not having to clean bleachers to keep the doors open!)

And good news for Jackson Conty, OR: looks like the may get to re-open after all. With shorter hours and less qualified staff. Hmm. What I didn't realize, was that Jackson County would be joining a group of libraries already under management by LSSI:

  • Arlington, TN
  • Bee Cave, TX
  • Calabasas, CA
  • Chatham College, PA
  • Collierville, TN
  • Fargo, ND
  • Finney County, KS
  • Germantown, TN
  • Hemet, CA
  • Jackson, TN
  • Lancaster, TX
  • Leander, TX
  • Linden, NJ
  • Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., NY
  • Millington, TN
  • Montgomery College, MD
  • Moorpark, CA
  • Red Oak, TX
  • Redding, CA
  • Riverside County, CA
  • San Juan, TX
Anyone from these places want to comment on your experience?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Greetings from South Africa!

This week, I am attending the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions World Library and Information Council meeting in Durban, South Africa. This is the premier annual gathering of librarians with an interest developing the international library community. More than 3,000 people are registered, and there are about 100 exhibitors.

Sunday morning, the opening session was nothing short of amazing --- an exciting amalgam of music, dance, video and two outstanding speakers. Dr. Z. Pallo Jordan, South Africa's Minister of Arts and Culture, spoke on the growth of education and libraries in the country since democratization in 1994. Dr. Jordan is an intellectual and writer, who served the ANC in exile during the 1960s and 1970s. Justice Albie Sachs, of the Constitutional Court (roughly equivalent to the US Supreme Court), spoke movingly about how books helped keep him emotionally whole during his solitary incarceration in the 1960s for fighting apartheid. He also lost an arm and an eye in an assassination attempt.

It occurred to me as I listened to these men that South Africa is in a unique position: its George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are all still alive. The men and women who moved South Africa from its racist roots to a progressive democracy are still here and active, in many cases. (South Africa is the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners live on the same street.)

It will be libraries and archives and museums that will preserve their memories, their artifacts, and ensure their impact on the future. I've never been quite so sure of the importance of the library mission as I am on this trip.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Books on your iPhone

I don't have an iPhone yet, although it's way cool they want to hear from me about it if I did have one. I would love to have one, but so far the price is too high for my budget.

I'm sure there will be library users in your area--yes, even your small, rural public library--who have them and are intensely devoted to them.

Here's another reason to love them: now the phones enable eBook excerpt-browsing. Called HarperCollins Browse Inside, you'll be able to see it at the Frankfurt Book Fair Oct. 10-14.

In the meantime, it might be worth checking out the LibreDigital Web site to check titles and see if you have the full title available--whether in e or p form.

Related note: I did see, in the July/Aug 07 print issue of Information Today, that eBooks are making a comeback. New technology like the iPhone and Sony's Reader is credited with some of the renaissance...of course, libraries have been there, all along!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Libraries are Getting Cool Points

It's not just my rose-colored glasses. Libraries and librarians have been getting GREAT press lately, in terms of shifting the general public's perceptions of us being irrelevant, old, dusty, bun-wearing, shushing places or people. Name your stereotype and the mainstream press is starting to help shift things. See my latest case in point (thanks , Eric) from the San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco libraries have become neighborhood best-sellers."

And you know the funny thing about it. Whether or not it is *actually* true in your particular library, you can start living it like it's true (not that you haven't been already, for years) and it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Hope you are having your own "running of the bulls" each morning as you open the doors of your public library. You academic librarians, enjoy the back-to-school bustle that's starting up!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Hero!

Chuck Harmon finished the Underground Railroad Bicycle Trail ride last weekend, and he has written a series of blog entries about it. I really admire Chuck for his determination in completing the ride, as well as for his work in planning the Ohio section of the route.

He also had the inspiration of tying public libraries into the trail, so you have to love the guy!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Several months ago, Chuck Harmon got me interested in the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, a bicycle route that runs from Mobile, Alabama, to Owen Sound, Ontario, following one route used by escaping slaves to find freedom in Canada. Chuck, a colleague at OCLC, is an avid cyclist and he laid out the Ohio section of the route. He is also an avid library user.

Chuck and I fleshed out ways public libraries could be involved in the route as "conductors," helping individual riders with a place to get out of the weather, find information about the area through which they were traveling, maybe even check their e-mail or read the day's newspaper. He and I started a message board on WebJunction about the route. One excellent entry from this site traces how the Erie County (Pennsylvania) public library has incorporated the route into their outreach.

Now, Chuck is on a one-week ride of the final lap of the route, from my old hometown of Buffalo, New York, to Owen Sound. His journal is on a site for cyclists called "Crazy Guy on a Bike," and he's doing a wonderful job talking about the ride. (Full disclosure: Chuck invited me to ride along, but my schedule at work has prevented me from getting away. Besides, I am bone idle.)

The route is a collaborative effort of Adventure Cycling Association, The Center for Minority Health, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, the National Park Service's Network to Freedom, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and WebJunction.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Is listening to a book cheating?

The New York Times seems to be on a tear with articles of interest to librarians recently. Today's entry, "Your Cheatin' Listenin' Ways," focuses on the controversy in some book clubs over listening to audiobooks as opposed to reading the text.

Before I go any further, full disclosure: NetLibrary, an OCLC division, currently markets Recorded Books products to libraries.

That being said, I am an unabashed fan of audiobooks. I was an audiobooks reviewer for AudioFile and Booklist for many years (until OCLC, NetLibrary and Recorded Books got together), and I find them to be a wonderful way to find new material, gain new insights on the written word, and hear wonderful performances by terrific voice artists and actors. Hearing Frank Muller read Pat Conroy, or Jim Dale read JK Rowling, or Barbara Rosenblat read anything this side of a grocery list, is a transcendent experience.

But stay away from the abridged books, OK? Even a pragmatist like me has to draw the line somewhere!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

socializing the social

I was at the Dublin office all of last week and although I was working rather hard, I had a lovely, lovely time. I spent my time there in three ways: first, working on wireframes for the new social networking features that will eventually show up on WebJunction; second, doing a series of meetings with other OCLC product managers and their friends to find out which, if any, of those features might be useful to their services and/or community building efforts; and three, working closely with my WJ colleagues Dave Ungar, Michael Porter (libraryman), Clayton Wood, and our Seattle-based colleagues on the future direction and strategy for social networking at WJ. LMTU, jam-packed fun and excitement.

First night, libraryman and I were blessed with the opportunity to connect up with Jasmine & Bob (OCLC Social Networking) along with Lorcan, Thom, Stu, and Eric (OCLC research) over dinner. The bulk of our conversation fell on the topic of the relevance of emerging social tools to OCLC services and the cooperative at large. Later, over a makeshift bar (with contributions from Stu) at Lorcan's house, we meandered around current implementations and process, as well as discussed the im/prudence of "disruptive" technologies and "subversive" processes in the context of a much larger organization. We left with varying degrees of agreement on the extent to which both patron and library staff services should be "socialized" but we sure had fun dreaming up new ways to get stuff done that's not just cool, but ultimately supports the cooperative on the whole. BTW: Lorcan pointed to this cool list of tools yesterday. you may have already seen it, but I was wowed by it and wanted to pass it on here, just in case.

Next few days we rocked the WJ wireframes process, although we didn't quite get them into full draft (yet). As soon as they and initial design drafts are finished, we'll take them out to our community for initial review and feedback. Preview: what are you and your friends doing (in libraryland)? ;) Please leave comments, email, directmail, or whatever your preferred method of contact if you're not a regular WJer and you'd like to be involved in this feedback!!

Mid-week I spent a (too brief) lunchtime with George, whose careful leadership and trusted mentoring are always welcomed. If only he'd move to Seattle. This in between non-stop (literally) meetings with everyone from to Delivery and Collection Analysis. I know there are those who like to refer to us as the "Anchor People" of libraryland (nice!) or to our OCLC headquarters as "the Deathstar" (not so nice, but funny!), but when you take a step back and think about it - we do some fairly mind-blowing things together as a cooperative.

By the time Friday rolled around, having spent nearly every waking hour in conversation with one or another of my colleagues about social networking, some things started to gel for me that hadn't before. Ideas are still marinating, but so far, here's how it goes:

-social tools are useful because they connect people around shared information, activities, or interests
-social tools might be efficient augments to online delivery of both tools and content (or data) because they can facilitate support, deliver news and documents, and connect people who work w/ the same stuff
-depending on what my role is in libraries, or how broadly I like to get involved or connect, I might want to have a fully integrated social experience (lots of people, lots of tools, lots of content) or very narrowly defined social experience (only people I work with, only content I care about, only the tools I use)
-if we could all get together on a shared platform (a single portal?), we could deliver the range between these extremes to "everyone" without their having to move from place to place on the web, and according to their preferences
-although i think primarily in terms of services to library staff, since that's where i spend most of my work time, consumers probably could benefit from exactly the same sort of thing - everything you can do with libraries, all in one place, and it's social

ideas are cheap, i know, but this is where my big giant dreams are starting to settle.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Encore t-shirt contest

Innovative Interfaces has a fun Flickr contest up, to see where their Encore t-shirts have gotten to. If you have an Encore t-shirt, upload your photo! I like the way they're using Flickr's ready-made tools to drive their own customized marketing campaign...

Friday, July 27, 2007

New study about youth and tech assumptions

Andy has again ferreted out more interesting stuff. This time it's a new global study from MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft about how kids and young people interact with digital technology. The study "challenges traditional assumptions about their relationships with digital technology, and examines the impact of culture, age and gender on technology use."

The press release is a good summation...if anyone can find a link to the real study, post it in the comments. Here are the highlights of the study, from the press release:
     -- Technology has enabled young people to have more and closer
friendships thanks to constant connectivity.
-- Friends influence each other as much as marketers do. Friends are as
important as brands.
-- Kids and young people don't love the technology itself -- they just
love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express
themselves and be entertained.
-- Digital communications such as IM, email, social networking sites and
mobile/sms are complementary to, not competitive with, TV. TV is part
of young peoples' digital conversation.
-- Despite the remarkable advances in communication technology, kid and
youth culture looks surprisingly familiar, with almost all young
people using technology to enhance rather than replace face-to-face
-- Globally, the number of friends that young males have more than
doubles between the ages of 13-14 and 14-17 -- it jumps from 24 to 69.
-- The age group and gender that claims the largest number of friends are
not girls aged 14-17, but boys aged 18-21, who have on average 70
Also, Microsoft has pulled out a few verbatim quotations on the study.

There were also really interesting global differences noted. One that stuck out for me was China. Because of the one-child rule in China, many kids reach out to online friends for companionship much more than in other countries where they may have siblings at home. It's such an interesting mix of culture, social norms, tech and gender!

If you remember our Symposium from ALA MW 2007 (scroll down), some of the privacy/parental controls situations that danah boyd described are now evident in the research.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Metrics of scholarly authority

Did I mention we are suffering under summer's mandate to slow down and enjoy the view, here at IAG? I have spent the past three weeks in hectic report-writing and budget-reconciling land, but have emerged relatively unscathed now that both have been submitted to higher powers.

I have been attending to civic matters, and busy catching up on correspondence. One of which was a message from (gulp) more than two weeks ago about an interesting blog topic. I flagged it at the time and now am finally returning to it.

Andy suggested it from a Chronicle article about Web 2.0/3.0 methods of establishing relevance and authority. Here the draft list the author, Michael Jensen, presented that Andy circulated as brain food with commentary:
  • Prestige of the publisher (if any).
  • Prestige of peer prereviewers (if any).
  • Prestige of commenters and other participants.
  • Percentage of a document quoted in other documents.
  • Raw links to the document.
  • Valued links, in which the values of the linker and all his or her other links are also considered.
  • Obvious attention: discussions in blogspace, comments in posts, reclarification, and continued discussion.
  • Nature of the language in comments: positive, negative, interconnective, expanded, clarified, reinterpreted.
  • Quality of the context: What else is on the site that holds the document, and what's its authority status?
  • Percentage of phrases that are valued by a disciplinary community.
  • Quality of author's institutional affiliation(s).
  • Significance of author's other work.
  • Amount of author's participation in other valued projects, as commenter, editor, etc.
  • Reference network: the significance rating of all the texts the author has touched, viewed, read.
  • Length of time a document has existed.
  • Inclusion of a document in lists of "best of," in syllabi, indexes, and other human-selected distillations.
  • Types of tags assigned to it, the terms used, the authority of the taggers, the authority of the tagging system.

The items I noted in red are ones where social networking systems would play a fairly obvious role in establishing or enhancing authority under these systems. The things noted in green/italic are somewhat secondary qualifications; i.e., the other social-y stuff will contribute, over time, more and more to, for example, the "prestige of the commentors and participants." That is, if I don't do the other things, my prestige will go down. They are (again, over time) likely to become effects as opposed to causes.

So... from a library perspective, does this mean that:

A) There should be a way for libraries to catalog/reference/rate scholary authority in some way? If the "old way" was to provide access and metadata for materials that had been conferred with authority by being in certain publications or by certain authors... how do we provide discovery/delivery for stuff where the authority is vested in a much less central way? And...

B) Should libraries seek to influence this "new authority" in any way, or simply promote its effects and/or best-in-class systems. That is, should librarians seek (in an organized fashion, and/or more than other users) to impart authority on various materials? Or should the task be to provide access based on authority.

He's asking great questions. What do you think?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Disaggregated Education

There was an interesting article in the Chronice of Higher Education last week (brought to my attention by the redoubtable Andy Havens) about iTunes U, and a course on the future of the internet which has been rapidly moving up the iTunes U best-seller list.

It seems to me that in the future, disaggregated education is going to grow in popularity and facility. Imagine if you could take courses from the world's best teachers, regardless of where you or they wanted to live or who wanted to tenure them or even if they were still alive. (My favorite professor of all time, Dr. Milton Plesur, should have been recorded and saved for posterity. That man could make American history come alive like no one else.) Then you could sit for examinations based on the canon of knowledge needed in that field (law, biology, English literature) to gain your own accreditation. Yes, it would be harder for The Ohio State University to organize its football team under these conditions. (The "OSU World of WarCraft Buckeyes," anyone?) However, there are certain advantages that seem apparent.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Noblest Taboo

If I tell you how I feel,
Will you keep bringing out the best in me?
You give me, you give me the sweetest taboo.

“The Sweetest Taboo” -- Sade (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia ; composed by Sade & Martin Ditcham)

A very happy Fair Use Day to one and all (and thanks to Aaron for alerting me via twitter). 11 July has been designated as Fair Use Day by the folks at Fair Use Day

Fair Use (Wikipedia entry) is a concept in U.S. law that effectively provides a limited, legal defense against liability for copyright infringement if the use of the copyrighted content is for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, and the use meets a four point test as specified in 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Like almost anything in the copyright arena, there are nuances, and one can expect to find significantly differing opinions about what does and does not constitute “fair use” under the provisions of U.S. law.

Here is a sample of potentially useful resources:
o Fair-Use: Overview and Meaning for Higher Education (Copyright Management Center)
o Copyright and Fair Use (Stanford)
o Highlights of the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia (Penn State) [ppt]
o AALL Guidelines on the Fair Use of Copyrighted Works by Law Libraries

Nice to see Fair Use Day earn a mention on several high-profile blogs including:
ars technica

It should be noted that this general concept of educational and similar uses exceptions to copyright is also present in the law of other nations; for example, in Commonwealth nations there is a kindred concept called “Fair Dealing” (Wikipedia entry).

So, dear readers, know the law, and help your users make full use of the privileges it accords. And celebrate Fair Use Day every day!

More (non)stereotypes: runner librarians

Having followed the NYT flurry about hip librarians, here's a fun correlation that the general public also might not naturally make--libraries and running.

But the Kennebunk Free Library in Kennebunk, Maine is doing just that to celebrate their 100 year anniversary.

It's a 5K planned for this Friday, with free massages and free meals for the runners. There will also be concerts, food and a raffle. Check out their sponsorship section! This library has definitely reached out to the community!

If you're in the Northeast (and it's not raining!), come show off your sporty side and work off your angst (if you have it) about the Times article.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Much Ado about Shushers

Is everyone else sick to death of discussing Sunday's New York Times article, "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers"? Sorry...I'm going to put my two cents in, too.

I have been absolutely amazed and dismayed by the reaction in some of the library community to the story. This was a "Fashion & Style" section know, about how some people dress and where they hang out and what kind of clothes they wear. But from the tone of some of the reactions, you would think that this was a serious sociological dissertation about the entire profession. The NEWLIB-L listserv has been all a-twitter (no plug intended) about this article for three days now, and at least half a dozen people have sent me the link. (Why is beyond me; no one has EVER accused me of being hip.) (Oh. Maybe that's the point.)

The reaction on The Annoyed Librarian is what really floored me. It opens with the anonymous Annoyed's screed against the story, "Take the 'Hip' Librarians, Please." Ordinarily, I would assume that any blog post that riffs a one-liner from Henny Youngman couldn't be all bad. This is a rule of thumb I will need to reconsider. But then, as of this morning, there are 36 additional comments, many even more vituperative in their comments about the article, about the people profiled in the article, and about the state of the library world in general.

I don't understand. We get furious when the media offer images of us as repressed spinsters and/or prissy confirmed bachelors. We get furious when they write about as young hipsters. When will we not be furious? And why do we waste so much time being furious?

The victim mentality in this profession needs to have a wooden stake driven through its heart ASAP.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

One of the Wonders

They say I must be one of the wonders,
Of God's own creation,
And as far as they see they can offer,
No explanation.

“Wonder – Natalie Merchant (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia)

I suspect many IAG readers may have seen references to a recent article in the New York Times (“A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” – [Note: may require registration to access]) that follows on the heels of a piece in the New York Sun (“For New-Look Librarians, Head to Brooklyn”) which also seems to have been picked up by the New York Press (“Too Cool For School”) and is garnering attention in various blogs and other outlets (see below).

The subject of the pieces is, in large part, a group founded by Maria Falgoust and Sarah Murphy, the Desk Set (myspace), "an informal group of librarians, archivists, library science students and other individuals who love books," which periodically has social events in bars in Greenpoint or Williamsburg (i.e. New York City area). The articles focus on the librarians being young, hip, technologically savvy, and contemporary-culture literate. It seems to surprise the press that librarians could indeed be cool, and this issue of journalists' persistently errant standing perceptions (i.e. librarians all wear hair buns and say “shush” a lot) is earning the press a bit of umbrage from libraryland – at least as I judge by reactions among my friends on twitter and in the blogosphere – no doubt for statements like:

And, in real life, there are an increasing number of librarians who are notable not just for their pink-streaked hair but also for their passion for pop culture, activism and technology.” (NYT article)

Silly made-up words like “guybrarians” (I’m male and a librarian, but I’m not a “guybrarian”) aside, I find the overall flavor of the coverage rather pleasing. Librarians, archivists, and museum folks are cool – probably have been to varying degrees for the life of the profession, but it’s nice to see it recognized in words and pictures. And frankly, I think we are seeing a bit of a sea change (and yes, I was in library school in the 80’s – love my classmates, but Rick Block is right: the library science students then weren’t as interesting as they are now) – this new cohort is much more a “let’s try it” crowd versus a longstanding, well-entrenched “let’s wait till we’re sure” attitude that has pervaded the profession for too long.

Coverage in libraryland and the blogosphere I’ve spotted (oh, and you may want to follow some of the linked sites – interesting stuff):
LJ Insider
Suggested Donation

So, we each must be one of the wonders. (Myself, I wonder if IAG can get an invite to a Desk Set gathering and maybe try a few of those Dewey-numbered drinks? I’m guessing the drinks are all good!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canada Day

I believe there is a distance I have wandered,
To touch upon the years of,
Reaching out and reaching in,
Holding out, holding in.
“Elsewhere” – Sarah McLachlan (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia ; Encyclopedia of Music in Canada ; myspace)

1 July is Canada Day (FĂȘte du Canada) [Wikipedia] a national holiday [Canadian Encyclopedia] – formerly known as Dominion Day – that commemorates the establishment of Canada as a dominion (i.e. a self-governing country that retains close ties to the British monarchy) on 1 July 1867.

We extend warmest greetings and best wishes to all of our Canadian readers, the wonderful folks who work in the thousands of cultural institutions across Canada – with a special shout out to our OCLC participating institutions and the WebJunction institutions in Canada – and our colleagues at OCLC Canada. (For more information on libraries in Canada, see, for example, the “Libraries” article in The Canadian Encyclopedia, or do a search in the WorldCat Registry).

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Traveling traveling

So now that everyone else is finally home from ALA, I am still on the road. I left DC on Monday and have since been in Wichita, Kansas; Huntsville, Alabama and Minneapolis, Minnesota. (with airport stopovers in St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee and Dallas, Texas...) We fly to Chicago, Illinois tonight.

Have I signed up for a new position as a Quality Assurance tester for the airline industry?
Not quite, but it's starting to feel like it! We're actually working on the creative concept possibilities for the library advocacy marketing program we're working on, and testing them with consumers in focus groups.

We've heard a lot of inspiring reflections and ideas from these consumers. At this point, ideas seem to be around a combination of thoughts about what your libraries are like now, what people's perceptions of others of what your libraries are like now, what the other infrastructure elements are like in your town (police, schools, fire) and what's been going on in the local media.

For one community, the idea of upgrading your library with newer buildings and materials is really appealing. In another, the libraries are perceived to be already beautiful and the notion is that "they must have enough money, they built a new building last year."

All very very interesting. People DO CARE about what's going on in their libraries in their towns and neighborhoods. But sometimes the caring only comes out, once you ask them if they care.

I WILL post my notes and photos from the Symposium and other associated OCLC at ALA it was AWESOME to see so many people in person at the Blog Salon!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

i'm @ ur blog salon

the blog salon always brings new friends, new conversation, and new innovations to my work in libraries. i am so proud to be working with you all in libraryland - to create change in our profession and enhance the experiences of our patrons and communities. yes. i feel lucky to be here and be a part of this.

Posts from the Blog Salon

As always...thoughts brought to you from the OCLC Blog Salon 2007, in revelers' own words:

First post of the night. Stay tuned. (tinfoil+raccoon)
Beer is better on the West coast. (eclectic librarian)

Great party, all - next time save the name tags so you have a big old list of all the bloggers who came and drank your beer (Erica, the un-cool librarian -

How about I just save this and then it will not lock? Everyone else, save after adding, Thanks. The room is bigger and we are still packed in and do you want to know why? Bloggers are awesome. Tonight, I have talked about kids, merging a reference desk and circ desk, managing ALA programs, and people's lives. Where else can I do that (with drinks?) - Cheers and thanks OCLC, Michelle Boule (Jane)

Thanks for one L of a party! (

OCLC Rocks! Thanks for making my first ALA conference a great one!

Thanks all! A great time, as always! (photos coming soon, or on Flickr...)