Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching up

Today has been a day for catching up. Not that I'm caught up on all my reading (ha ha ha, does that ever happen?), but at least I've plowed through my inbox.

Speaking of plowing, while I was in sunny CA accompanying a conference attendee (AGU is the ALA of geologists and oceanographers), visiting friends and going to yummy restaurants, we had two feet of snow. That's right. 2 FEET. But I missed most of it, as a lot had melted by the time I (finally) got home.

We met one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful airline representative on Christmas Eve Eve when we were socked in with snow at O'Hare. He was incredibly helpful when our late evening American Airlines flight from Chicago to Boston was cancelled. Have you had weather delays, in your holiday travel? Or wishing you could travel, instead of having to work the Reference Desk over the holidays?

Well to cheer you up, no matter what your are a few tasty, no-calorie morsels that have crossed my desk recently (in no particular order):

  • Museums on Us. Free admission to selected museums, if you have a Bank of America card/account. I love this idea!! (Of course, free admission is admittedly less of a draw when you're already usually free.) But the main point is--someone in the museum community has partnered with a bank to give the consumer a great experience. It made me contemplate opening an account with them, just to get the free museum days.
  • DIY PS3 supercomputer. Andy tells me you can build one for around US$ 4,000. Here's the recipe.
  • smashLAB White Paper on Social Media. A nice guide for social media from the marketing perspective. It's from March 2008, so a bit dated but offers a solid-but-quick overview if you want the basics.
Hope you've been enjoying your snowy or sunny holidays.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"A Library Carol"

Check out "A Library Carol," a little holiday bonbon from "George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud," the podcast Joan Frye Williams and I do for Infopeople.

Many thanks to the rest of the cast...Andy Havens, Martin Helmke, Joyce Leahy, Larry Olszewski, Chuck O'Shea, and Eileen O'Shea (who is also our producer, mixer, and all around heroine).

Happy holidays, and to all, a good night!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Infopeople CLA Presentations

The mini-demos sponsored by Infopeople at the California Library Association conference last month are now available on Infopeople's web site. A wide variety of topics is available, including Linda Demmers presentation on Green Buildings, Chuck O'Shea on Jing, and Joan Frye Williams and me on Strategic Positioning. There are also links to the presentations Joan and I reacted to, featuring Daniel Pink and William Crossman. (These link open the presentations, so check the volume on your computer before opening!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Library Building on Wired Campus

The Chronicle's Wired Campus blog has an audio feature on the library building as part of their Tech Therapy segment.

Interesting, as one of my predictions from 2006 of what would extend the library brand too far--that is, treadmills in the library--has now apparently been envisioned for Goucher College.

I love to admit I was wrong about the future. Me, I have to underline things in order to read them intensively. But college students today are probably much less hung up about such things. Flexibility in thought, schedule and outlook on life reigns supreme these days.

Or maybe I just like their restaurant name so much, I am willing to concede that some people would be able to read Descartes on a treadmill.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another Award for Underground Railroad Bicycle Route

Allow me to brag for my friends at Adventure Cycling. Their Underground Railroad Bicycle Route has won the American Trails Partnership Award for its combination of cycling, minority health improvement, and outreach.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cheerleaders and Librarians

I attended the California Library Association conference in San Jose this past weekend. Sharing the convention center was a competition of cheer squads. These are cheerleaders who don't cheer for a specific team, school, or sport, but rather compete on the basis of their own athleticism, coordination, and style.

It occurred to me that libraries should both have cheerleaders (because of the importance and the necessity of the work done) and be cheerleaders (to show the rest of the world how excited we are about what we do).

One of the findings of the recent OCLC report From Awareness to Funding was the importance of passionate librarians in making the case for libraries. What could be more passionate than a champion cheerleader?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Libraries make the Huffington Post

Think what you will about the Huffington Post, and there was some positioning against Google that wasn't quite what one might have hoped for in the best of worlds: "Librarians attempt to Outsmart Google"...but still. Librarians made mainstream blogland.

It's all about the new project to help develop a new Web search experience based on expertise from librarians called Reference Extract. Short of sounding like a spice rack essential in a Hogwarts kitchen, it sounds like a very cool idea and look forward to seeing more.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Focus on Tough Economic Times

WebJunction will host three webinars next month on how to deal with tough economic times. Registration is free; we avoided the obvious irony of charging for a webinar on having no money!

The programs are scheduled for:
If you can't participate at any of these times, the programs will be archived.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What about Cooperative Effects?

By Arthur Smith
Every time I glance at my RSS feeds I'm up over my boots in discussions about network effects. The example people give is the original Bell telephone concept (1908) that more telephones make each telephone more valuable. The positive effects of more telephones, eventually extend to people who don't own telephones. That is, networks create effects for those who don't directly contribute to the networks themselves. affects every non-network child who listens to a book read by the librarian who found the book on WorldCat.

Working outside the USA, I'm often reminded of how our members, quite independently of OCLC itself, have the potential to extend the benefits of the cooperative resources to non-member librarians. Often, in fact, to people who may never have heard of OCLC.

Recently David Hirsch, Librarian for Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, was a guest lecturer in Dakar. David's subject was not OCLC, but, more generically. cataloging, ILL, reference, etc. However, David chose Connexion and as the platforms for his discussions, to give the librarians in Dakar their first introduction to OCLC.

William Kopycki, Middle East Studies Bibliographer at the University of Pennsylvania, was recently asked to teach courses in Armenia about WorldCat services. This was something the Armenian librarians had been introduced to through their participation in a consortium of multinational libraries called AMICAL. William also "taught OCLC" as part of the IFLA Meetings of Experts on an International Cataloging Code (IME ICC) in Cairo.

Thanks goes out once again to OCLC members who continue to generate positive network effects for the extended global community of libraries and library users.

Heading off to Hackathon

Hey everyone. I've been "head-down" the past few weeks, as we've come to say in our group. I've learned how to host Webinars--or at least I can say that I've wrestled with WebEx with the best of them.

Anyway, before I zip off to the very first WorldCat Hackathon in New York tomorrow (I'm so excited!!), I wanted to introduce a guest post from a fellow OCLC staffer, Arthur Smith. Arthur is the Director for Strategic Business Development in the Middle East and India. He keeps us on our toes and always has great insight into things, it seems to me. He sent a photo last week that I immediately wanted to share with you, because it speaks volumes about the incredible work that librarians do on a daily basis all over the world...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vision of Students Today, Redux

Several months ago, I posted a link to a remarkable YouTube video by Michael Wasch titled, "A Vision of Students Today." Mr. Wasch, a lecturer at Kansas State University, has published a remarkably candid update of the post, not as a video, but as an essay on There's an interesting review of the video and the essay on

Along the same lines, there's an update of a classic presentation by Karl Fisch called "Did You Know / Shift Happens," which should be required viewing for all of the men and women who are clamoring for our votes today. In just six minutes, your view of the world can get much more expansive! The funny thing is, I'm not entirely sure who did the latest remix of the presentation. It was licensed under Creative Commons and there are a number of versions floating around out there. Hmmm...maybe that's one of Mr. Fisch's points!

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Why Public Libraries Close" Webinar

In September, WebJunction published Dr. Christie Koontz's paper, "Why Public Libraries Close," based on research she and her co-authors, Dean K. Jue and Bradley Wade Bishop, had presented at the ALA conference this summer. The publication sparked a flurry of discussion, including considerable critique of the thesis and research methods used in the paper.

On November 13, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, WebJunction will present a free webinar with Dr. Koontz on her research and this paper. Find out more about this important topic, and get the details directly from the researcher!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Great Day in Oak Park

Friday, I had the opportunity to spend the day with the staff at the Oak Park Public Library in Chicagoland. This was my first trip to my old stomping grounds since the Cubs dropped it in the mud (again), but despite that, this was a wonderful experience. For once, I didn't have to zoom off to the airport after giving my talk: I actually had the chance to stick around and participate in the Staff Institute.

I attended four very good breakout sessions on quite different topics: "Dangerous Ideas," based on the PLA program from the Minneapolis conference; "What is a PC?," a hands-on look under the case of a desktop computer, with side trips into peripherals and cables; a program on dealing with homeless people, remarkable for the staff's high level of compassion and low level of whining; and finally, a behind the desk tour of the library that included not tech services or the computer room, but the furnace room, the air handlers, and the library's green roof. It was fascinating!

Overall, I was impressed with the camaraderie and openness of the staff, which seemed to me to be more diverse in age and background than many libraries I visit. Getting to spend a day with library workers helps revitalize me, and I appreciate their willingness to share their day with me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nice move, ALA

George Eberhart from ALA just sent me a message, noting that the American Library Association has opened up access to American Libraries magazine and the weekly AL newsletter. In his e-mail, he noted three big changes:

1. The weekly e-newsletter, American Libraries Direct, is now available to anyone who wants to sign up for it, not just ALA members. The sign-up form, as well as the FAQ, is at .

2. American Libraries has launched its own blog, AL Inside Scoop, . Editor-in-chief Leonard Kniffel offers an insider’s view of goings-on at ALA headquarters and what hot topics ALA staffers are talking about in the hallways. Associate Editor Greg Landgraf offers his perspective from “the lower floors” of what many see as the ALA ivory tower.

3. Login is no longer required to view the current issue of the American Libraries print magazine online (in PDF format), or to view the archives, which date back to the January 2003 issue. Go directly to . First-time viewers will need to install the ebrary reader to view issues. To download, go to . Firefox 3 users installing the reader for the first time will need a workaround,, to make the ebrary reader work with their browser.

This is a gutsy and timely move by our professional association. Congratulations to Leonard, George, ALA Executive Director Keith Fiels, and the member leaders and staff of ALA who helped make this a reality!

Where the heck have I been?

This morning I looked at my RSS feeds, and realized that it's been more than a month since I posted to "It's All Good." How could that have happened? It's not like nothing is happening in the library world, or in OCLC land, or even in my working life.

Actually, I do know the answer to the question in my title. Since my last post on September 12, I've been in Sacramento, Phoenix, San Antonio, Vancouver BC, Idaho Falls, Jackson MS, Vancouver WA, Portland OR, and Washington DC (where I'm writing this from the lobby of the Renaissance M Street Hotel). Oh, and occasionally at home and at the OCLC offices in Columbus/Dublin.

Joan Frye Williams and I rolled out our "Futureproofing" program in Phoenix to generally good reviews. I had my first trips to Idaho and Mississippi. I got to meet my old friends and colleagues at a Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) meeting. And today, I porticipated in an excellent meeting of the members of OCLC Eastern, featuring great talks by Jay Jordan, Cathy De Rosa, and Greg Zick, and stimulating dialogue with the audience.

Tomorrow, we begin the first Members Council meeting of the fiscal year, and then on Tuesday, it's off to Seattle for a WebJunction meeting. Then I wrap up the week at the Oak Park Public Library in Illinois for their staff development day.

In Guys and Dolls, Skye Masterson tells Sister Sarah that he's been in more hotel rooms than the Gideon Bible. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm working on it. So if you happen to see me wandering the streets of your town in a daze, just tell me where I am, point me at the airport, and wish me well, OK?

PS: By the way, I'm not complaining about ANY of this. I love this life, and welcome opportunities to get out and talk to library staff, trustees, and users, and to enrich my own experience of libraries. So call me!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Healthy kid food for your cafe

Kidfresh is finally on the ball with making healthy food available for people on the go. Of course, the travelers are intended to be pint-sized, but I couldn't resist the lure of a dinosaur-shaped sandwich. I mean, who wouldn't want to eat a (whole wheat) and (organic) cheese T-Rex for dinner? (Spotted at the JFK airport).

Is there a message in here for libraries?

Fun packaging, smart product, right placement.

Get these 3 things right, and you're 95% of the way there.
That and do you stock these at your library cafe? Could you? (Especially on storytime days for publics?) (Or at Exam time for academics?)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Calling all developers: WorldCat Hackathon

If you're a coder-type or want to hang out with some and brainstorm some great ideas/write some great code, come to the WorldCat Hackathon!

Registration is now open for the Nov. 7-8 event in New York at the New York Public's Science, Industry and Business Library.

I'm excited because I'm going to be there and "cover" the event, interview/blog about the attendees and (very important) make sure there's enough yummy food.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Report: "Latinos and Public Library Perceptions"

The new report on Latinos and Public Library Perceptions is now available on the WebJunction site. The work on the report was done by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, and written by Edward Flores and Harry Pochon. The work was funded by WebJunction with funds provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Spanish Language Outreach project.

Special kudos to WebJunction staffers Laura Staley and Janet Salm for guiding this project from the WJ/OCLC side!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Why Public Libraries Close" Now Available

A few weeks ago, I mentioned here that the paper "Why Public Libraries Close," which was written by Christie Koontz, Dean Jue and Wade Bishop, would be available on WebJunction when the new platform went live. The paper is now available here in multiple formats.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

people are content. networks are collections.


This little tweet warmed my heart when I first saw it last week. I wasn't following Jeremy, but saw his tweet because I have a WebJunction twitter search set up on one of my Google tabs (you can also see a feed on our About Us page).

First, it was great to see because in preparation for our relaunch on the new platform, our team had done some extra work getting new topic areas ready - particularly in the areas that we'd heard from our members that they wanted content or resources, but they just hadn't been collected yet. My colleague Betha went to work creating a nice set of collection development resources as part of this effort and it was very nice to see that it was being noticed.

But perhaps more importantly, it was the way Jeremey said it. "I'm a resource..." This is exactly what we hoped to better facilitate on the new platform - people as resources to one another - and this was one little testament to the possibility that we're on our way.

Thanks Betha, and Jeremey, for being a part of it all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"Above the Fold"

One of the things that people frequently ask us is "What are you reading now?" Eric Childress has hooked up a feed from WorldCat to the front page of this blog to show what he's reading. Lorcan Dempsey's blog regularly features notes on his vast reading. I am almost done with Book 3 in my Laubach course, so I will be adding to that soon.

Now there's a new newsletter from OCLC Programs and Research and IBIS Communications called Above the Fold. In the words of Jim Michalko, Vice President, RLG Programs, "Our intent is to pull together articles that relate to the work of the RLG Partnership and the information context in which we're all operating -- but that you might not see in the course of your regular awareness routines. Each citation will include a short annotation explaining why we think the article may be of interest to you. And each note will be attributed to the staff member whose thoughts on the issue and its relevance can be tapped."

Free subscriptions to Above the Fold, and other OCLC newsletters, are available here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Five Seasons

The day after Labor Day in the United States begins autumn. No, not by the calendar, but by the way we live our lives. There are actually five seasons in much of the US:

Labor Day (the first Monday in September) to Election Day (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November) is autumn. Back to school time, the World Series, the beginning of football season, lots of yard work, and Halloween mark this season.

Election Day to New Year's Day is the holiday season. Religious holidays, the heart of football season, the beginning of basketball and hockey, and some family time are the hall marks of holiday season.

New Year's Day to Easter is winter. For those of us from Snow Belt cities, this is the season of bad driving but not too much road work. It is also the season that reminds me of a quote from Raymond Chandler's story "Red Wind," which was referring to quite different atmospheric conditions:

On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.

Easter to Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) is spring. Hope and contrition, an opportunity for the Cubs to be in contention, eating lots of chocolate while worrying about fitting into your swimming suit, and all the other contradictions of our modern world come into play in the spring.

Memorial Day to Labor Day is summer, no matter what the calendar reads.

I guess I'm writing this post as an elegy to the summer of 2008, but also to suggest that planning library displays and events around the REAL seasons instead of the meteorological ones may be a way of connecting to your community. (It's a stretch but I'm writing this on company time and I had to figure out how to apply these thoughts to libraries, OK?)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Electing an American President

We've had more than the usual amount of United States presidential campaign activity near OCLC's headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. Ohio is one of the key battleground states for the election of the next U.S. president so no doubt there will be many more visits by the candidates, but probably not many so close to home with both the major candidates and their running mates appearing together.

On Friday, 29 August, Republican candidate John McCain held a rally (12-15,000 people) in nearby Dayton, Ohio, and announced his choice for running mate, Governor Sarah Palin.

WorldCat Identities for the Republican ticket:
McCain, John 1936-
Palin, Sarah 1964-

On Saturday 30 August, Democratic candidate Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, held an outdoor rally (18-20,000 people) at Dublin Coffman High School, within walking distance of OCLC Headquarters.

WorldCat Identities for the Democratic ticket:
Obama, Barack
Biden, Joseph R.

I was not able to attend John McCain's campaign event, but I was able to attend Barack Obama's (see the scan of the ticket stub above). The message Obama and other speakers at the rally presented was very much an echo of the speeches at the Democratic National Convention. Obama followed his presentation by moving through part of the crowd, shaking hands, talking with those gathered. I and Heather managed to position ourselves close enough to see Obama up close. His interaction with the crowd seemed very genuine as he shook hands and responded to comments. Aides gathered copies of his books that people wanted signed, and he apparently signed them before boarding his bus and departing.

While it's very easy to be cynical about the pronouncements of the U.S. presidential candidates and their lieutenants and supporters, one has to acknowledge that the excitement I witnessed at the Obama rally was very real. Presumably McCain's event garnered a similar level of excitement from his gathered supporters. We can only hope that both of the tickets are composed of worthy people, and that the U.S. electorate will choose wisely.

At libraries (especially public libraries) throughout the U.S. citizens are being offered the opportunity to register to vote, and access to materials by and about the candidates. So, gentle IAG readers, what great things will your library be doing this election season to help your users be informed on the candidates and the issues and exercise their right to vote?


Musical note:

This song has been used by both the Republicans (during George W. Bush's 2004 campaign) and now by the Democrats (for Obama's 2008 campaign).

"Only in America" composed by Kix Brooks/Don Cook/Ron Rogers ; popularized by Brooks & Dunn (AMG entry, Wikipedia entry, Brooks & Dunn Web site).


"Only in America
Dreaming in red, white and blue

Only in America

Where we dream as big as we want to

We all get a chance

Everybody gets to dance

Only in America"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who's on twitter? Are you?

Last week Lorcan pointed to an interesting article [Even Gen X is aTwitter] with data about who’s using twitter. In addition to 57% being from California (really?) and 63% being male “…the age demographics of Twitterers show a dramatic shift. When the site became popular in early 2007, the majority of its visitors were 18-to-24-year-olds. Today the site's largest age demographic is 35-to-44-year-olds.”

David Lee King recently posted on his blog about how many patrons are already using twitter and other social media tools. “Yes, people in your community are already connecting and engaging with others via social media tools,” says David, “Are you?”

Over the last several weeks at WebJunction we received a number of support requests about user inability to view some of our videos about the new platform (here's an example with others linked here). In exploring the reasons why, we realized that some of our users in libraries still work in libraries that block access to youtube, and the like. Reasons cited include bandwidth for networks that are already stretched. What should we say about our own Internet use and access to our IT admins? Our security and privacy colleagues? Our funding councils and governments?

Very simply, we must continue to articulate our need for access to both social media and social tools in terms of relevance to our patrons and our community. Without our knowledge of and participation in the social spheres where our patrons engage with each other, where new content is published and knowledge emerges, we can't stay relevant. And without relevance, we won't be around.

Update: let me just add that I don't care about twitter in particular. It's just a tool and one of many examples of things we should be exploring.

Student comparisons, or, Why Penn State students come out ahead

Eric is madly dashing around the office, trying to get ready for a presentation he's giving in Mexico--or he would have posted this himself.

But he knew I was NOT madly dashing around the office. In fact, I'm here on an almost leisurely Friday morning before the three-day weekend. I biked the baby to school today, as we have been doing for the past 2 weeks now. It turns out, it's practically as fast as the car and it may not be saving a ton of gas...but I decided it saves me feeling like a nincompoop for driving the 3 miles twice a day. Plus the fresh air, a bit of exercise, some drama as I turn onto the main road with lots of cars. All good.

But I digress. Penn State took the results from The College Students Perceptions report and compared it with their latest FACAC results, as reported by E-Tech.

Penn State students regularly came out on top, above national averages revealed by the report. Now, there are a number of factors that could be in play here:
  • Penn State students are above average. (Probably quite likely, yes.)
  • Students have gotten much more information literate since the report was published (less likely.)
  • Librarians have become much more aware of the need to bridge the chasm between student perceptions and library offerings since the report was published (Overwhelmingly likely!)

Any of the above--and in combination--I am ecstatic about the possibilities and excited by the potential. With academic life cranking back up next week (if it's not already cranked in your neck of the world), what's your response to these findings, in terms of your own experience?

Also (unrelated) a colleague just forwarded me a link to Wimba Pronto. Looks like a nice way to carry conversations from the classroom to the dorm room and beyond. Even if it's only for virtual office hours--could be a more formalized setting than Facebook and less stilted than Blackboard. (Not that I've actually used Blackboard myself, but so I'm told.)

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Customer Focused Library

There's some great new content to check out on the WebJunction site. The Metropolitan Library System, based in Burr Ridge, IL, and four participating libraries, three public and one academic, engaged a nationally recognized retail space consulting firm to look at what people do while they are in libraries. Research included unobtrusive observation, questionnaires, and videotaping of actual patron behavior.

The result is a short but very useful booklet titled Best Practices for the Customer-Focused Libraries.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meaningful work

Please see the following announcement for an opening for what appears to be a very interesting position, which was described to me by Janna Greenberg of Benetech.

Thank you so much for offering to help me with my search for a librarian for Benetech. As I mentioned in our conversation, Benetech's mission is to create new technology solutions that serve humanity and empower people to improve their lives.

Benetech has an opening for a Librarian for its division. is the world's largest collection of digital electronic books for the blind and print disabled. has recently been awarded $32 million by the Federal Government to expand their online book collection for print-disabled students nationwide. The role of this Librarian would be to curate and digitize's online library.

The position announcement and further information are available here. Please note that this is NOT an OCLC or WebJunction position, so please don't contact me directly about this. Thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2008

hi-fi sci-fi li-brar-y

One of the best things about my job is that I get to work with creative, energetic, and innovative colleagues that have a lot of fun with their work (even when they're not getting paid for it and even when they have to work massive and odd hours to get it done).

You've heard about the WebJunction musicals, karaoke, and maybe even our very own "family drinking song," but Michael Porter (aka libraryman) has topped it all with the prep for his talk at LITA National Forum later this fall.

He and David Lee King's original music, lyrics, and video for "hi-fi sci-fi library" are posted now on his blog. And for those of you who are lyrically oriented, they're here and well worth the gander.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Thanks to Library Journal and John (Blatant) Berry for the big plug and the great exposure for Futureproofing in the August issue. Joan Frye Williams and I developed this concept for an upcoming program sponsored by the State Library of Arizona, and subsequently requested for the Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference as well as staff development days in San Antonio and Vancouver, Washington. We discussed the idea briefly with John when we were each speaking at the Ohio Library Council's Reference and Adult Services conference in Columbus in early July, and LJ ran with it. The additional input from LJ's Movers and Shakers that appears in the magazine will help inform our presentations.

Now that's synergy!

(Note to LJ copy editors: Next time, you don't need the hyphen. It’s just “Futureproofing.")

Early Childhood Learning Materials Available

Washington Learning Systems in Seattle is offering free access to materials to assist in early childhood education. According to the press release I received:

These materials include 14 activities designed to be used outside the home: in the car, while walking, during bus rides, etc. The activities encourage early language and literacy development from birth through preschool. They are appropriate for children with disabilities as well as children who are developing typically. The development of these materials was supported by Grant H324M020084 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

The materials are available in English and Spanish.

You can download the materials here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Remembering Gary Houk

This week has been a difficult one for OCLC staff. On Monday, August 18, 2008, our friend and colleague, Gary R. Houk passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

A person widely respected, liked and admired by his colleagues, Gary started at OCLC in 1974 as a programmer/analyst and held many technical leadership roles, rising through the ranks to senior management and serving over his career at OCLC as Vice President, Member Services, later as Vice President, Cataloging and Metadata Services, and most recently as Vice President, Corporate Information Technology and Business Integration.

Despite challenges with chemotherapy treatments and the reduced mobility associated with his medical condition over the last year and half, Gary -- as was his nature -- did not let his illness deter him from being an active and engaged leader at OCLC nor did he permit his illness to deny him the pleasure of taking part in his daughter’s wedding.

For myself, many of my colleagues, Gary’s family, and his numerous friends who attended a memorial service today at a local church, it was comforting to be reminded of Gary’s warmth, charm, good-humor, and his life’s love (his wife, Randi), his life’s joy (his daughter, Shannon), his love of family, his loyalties (Gary was a graduate and life-long supporter of The Ohio State University), his passions (his work at OCLC and his passion for the game of golf), his public-spiritedness (Gary served on many local civic and business organizations in Dublin), and his personal faith.

Described during the memorial service as a “larger-than-life” figure who leaves a larger-than-life hole in the fabric of the lives of those around him, Gary was for the many of us who had the pleasure to work for and with him over these many years, a reliable, ever-present, ever-well-informed, favored colleague and friend, a man with a keen mind, quick wit, the patience to give all ideas and concerns a fair hearing, and the generalship to get things done. As Gary was himself a change agent and embraced risk-taking, he admired such qualities in others and was often a sponsor and internal champion of people and ideas that pushed boundaries. And if you needed to know anything about Ohio State’s football program, Gary was the man to go to.

In his message to OCLC staff on Monday, Jay Jordan called Gary Houk “an exceptional colleague and leader who contributed greatly to OCLC’s success.” I know Gary would have liked this well-deserved tribute to his person and his good work.

That I and my fellow IAGers, and all of our colleagues at OCLC shall miss Gary is an understatement. We mourn the passing of our friend and colleague. And we’ll keep Gary’s family in our thoughts and prayers.

Links related to Gary Houk:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Free like free

I just heard this funny anecdote today about the different meanings of "free."
Free as in:
  • Free Speech.
  • Free Beer.
  • Free Puppies.

Free Speech: You have the right to do something at no cost, as in "it's a free country" or "free speech."
Free Beer: There are things like "free beer," that might be free for you but someone has to pay for it. (This is something like "everything is free at the library!" but someone has to pay for the materials, staff salaries, lighting, heat, chairs, plumbing...)
Free puppies: Open source software might be something akin to free puppies. You may acquire them at no cost, but you may be looking at some bills down the road for food, vet bills, carpet cleaning, etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Authenticity: An Olympian Struggle

I've been enjoying the kerfuffle over the lack of authenticity in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing. With the CGI-generated fireworks, lip synching cherubs, and, of course, chemically enhanced athletes, my wife, the long-suffering Joyce, has taken to referring to this as the Milli Vanilli Olympics.

But I think there's a pretty important lesson for libraries in this, too. We need to be careful to protect our authenticity. To quote that eminent maritime philosopher Popeye, "I yam what I yam." When we try to be something we aren't, we destroy the authenticity that people treasure in libraries. This is not to say we should avoid building services that meet current and future needs, whether they be gaming, embedded librarians, cooperatively generated content, or joint use facilities. But we need to do this while being constantly aware of, and actively drawing upon, our core principles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bronx Lab School Shout Out

Regular readers of these posts may remember my piece about a group of students from the Bronx Lab School in New York City who were going to ride the Ohio leg of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. They completed their ride last week, and their journal of the trip is now online. Each of the students took a turn at writing the entries, and if these comments don't move you, check your pulse.

My favorite quote is from Edrina. On the seventh day, the students were in northeastern Ohio and had a lot of hills to conquer. There was considerable discussion about whether they should attempt to ride the bikes over the hills, walk them, or take portage in the vans. Edrina is quoted by Kevin as saying, “The hills are like life, where we will always find obstacles in our way that we have to climb and if we give up before we get to the end, we’ll never get past it.”

The pride of OCLC, Chuck Harmon, laid out the route in Ohio and accompanied the students on their ride. He tells me these kids were as great as they seem to be in their journal.

If you have ever complained about kids today, you owe it to yourself to spend half an hour reading this journal and looking at the photos. It could cheer up anyone!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Re-Kindle, Re: Kindle

Hate to argue with my colleague Roy Tennant (OK, I actually enjoy arguing with Roy), but I don't think Kindle is going down in flames, or as Roy would have it FLAMES.

Eric Schonfeld at TechCrunch, quoted in Engagdet, says Amazon has sold 240,000 of the e-content readers, for nearly $100,000,000 in revenue. So even if, as Roy contends, Kindle "is not it," it sure is something.

Of course, for the record, both Roy and I have a stake in all this, since our mutual employer, OCLC, owns NetLibrary, a leading provider of e-content to libraries.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Amazon Grows Again, eh?

Amazon announced today that it is purchasing AbeBooks, the used and rare book dealer based in Victoria, British Columbia. This will result in more consolidation in the secondary book market, but it will certainly increase Amazon's ability to deliver Canadian content.

Added 10 minutes later: Incidentally, this gives Amazon a stake in Library Thing. Tim Spalding discusses the implications for LT here.

Resurrecting Reference

The archive of the webinar "Resurrecting Reference" which Joan Frye Williams and I presented yesterday is now available on the Infopeople website. There's some interesting additional material available from the Infopeople blog, too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

IMLS Task Force

This week, I attended the first meeting of the Institute of Museum and Library Service's 21st Century Skill Task Force. This task force was appointed to help IMLS develop the strategic focus of their upcoming Report on Museums and Libraries and 21st Century Skills and a self-assessment tool that will allow cultural heritage tools to determine where they are on a continuum of institutional skills.

IMLS has asked us to look at three areas: What are the critical elements of 21st century skills (for our public, not our staffs) and how do these relate to libraries and museum? What are the competencies and aptitudes that museums and libraries need to deliver 21st century skills? And what are the key strategies that these institutions can undertake in promoting and integrating 21st century skills into services and programming? (To find out more about 21st century skills, and to see the document we are using as a guiding text, start here, then if you want to take a deep dive into the topic, go here.)

The Task Force consists of 18 people, including people with stronger museum or stronger library backgrounds. One of the first things we discovered as we introduced ourselves around the room is that the distinction between having a museum background and having a library background is a fuzzy one. Deborah Schwartz, the president of the Brooklyn Historical Society, includes a major research library as part of her museum. I used to run a public library with a gallery space.

That's not to say we sat around and sang "Kum-Bi-Yah," or anything like that. There were heated discussions about the alleged elitism of art museums. There were excellent exchanges about the language we use to describe what we do and how these words vary among types of institutions. Carlos Tortolero from the National Museum of Mexican Art and I had a prolonged debate on whether museums or libraries had done a better job in responding to changes in the information environment (he thought libraries, I thought museums---go figure).

One of the most interesting discussion was over the question of aspirations. If we are doing our jobs well, what do we aspire to happen to our members? And has this changed in the last few decades? I contended that there were no changes in aspirations, only in the tools we use to service those aspirations. But Nina K. Simon of Museum 2.0 (a new candidate for my list of Top 10 Cool People) pointed up one thing that really is new: the individual's desire to be seen as an individual and to have the services tailored to himself or herself. This simply wasn't possible before, and it really wasn't expected. But changes in technology mean we can make the experience---library or museum---individualized, and this truly is a new aspiration. Lively discussion followed on whether or not this was a good thing. Some contend it is the only way we can survive in the modern world; others see this as the end of the civil society that comes from shared experience. One lonely voice seemed to think that both points of view are right.

(By the way, Nina's blog post "Is Your Museum Website a Walled Garden?" is very instructive. In fact, if you change the word "museum" to "library" in that post, it asks the questions we should be asking ourselves, and gives some outstanding advice.)

We meet again in September, and I'm looking forward to continuing this exhilarating discussion. And I would look forward to hearing from you in the library world about how you see your library's role in furthering education and the development of 21st century skills in your community. Add your comments to the blog, or write to me directly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Checked out Cuil

I checked out Cuil, tempted by the Chronicle's coverage of the new, "bigger than Google" search engine. Not thrilling, IMO. But maybe it will grow on me. It does have a nice black screen, which might save lots of energy--but it might not. Did I mention we want to see Wall-E last weekend?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Small and Rural Library Month

You won't find this on the calendar, but July is turning into Small and Rural Library Month for me.

Earlier this month, I was honored to be asked by Bernie Vavrek to be part of a meeting at Clarion University's Center for Small and Rural Libraries, formerly the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship, to discuss the major needs of these libraries. We had a fascinating discussion, and generated some interesting ideas that will be shared soon. Watch for some new initiatives from the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (full disclosure: ARSL is organizationally housed at WebJunction, which is part of my OCLC portfolio). Their conference, at which I'll be speaking with Joan Frye Williams in September, could be one of the most interesting tickets around!

Then later this week, I'm participating in the first conference call meeting of the Small Libraries Advisory Group. This group will advise OCLC on ways to make its services more attractive to small libraries. I recently engaged in a brief discussion on Catalogablog about this group, and I offer the same invitation to It's All Good readers: if you have suggestions on how we can make help bring more small libraries into the cooperative, I want to hear them. Add a comment here, or e-mail me at OCLC, and let me know what you're thinking!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ALA video

David Lee King created a video from ALA in Anaheim. Of course I can't resist posting it, because he was one of our speakers this year at the OCLC Symposium (video now available). For some reason the video requires IE, note to self. If you didn't make it to ALA this year, you can still go to the blog salon by proxy, sort of, by watching the video...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blog salon photos

I finally posted them, although I didn't have nearly as many as I thought I did. Add your own links in comments!

Friday, July 18, 2008

We've been quietly digging out

So you may have noticed we have been suspiciously quiet since ALA. Is it because we used up all our decent ideas at the LITA Forum? Blog salon?
  • I think it's because we're all trying to dig out from the "ALA preparation" hole that we (at least, me) invariably find ourselves in.
  • Chrystie is busy launching a new WebJunction site.
  • I spent a week in Ohio and now have a new official role as the consumer marketing guru for (My words, not OCLC's).
  • George is valiantly trying to have a summer in between speaking engagements and entertaining IFLA fellows.
  • Eric, well, Eric last I know was organizing a baseball outing. But that was in his spare time.

If you missed the WorldCat Challenge at ALA, the WorldCat pool and wheresworldcat tagged photos are starting to grow. If you need a WorldCat t-shirt, more are coming later this summer. The first appearance was at ALA, but I'll let you know as soon as they're available. Or sign up to receive WorldCat updates and you'll know when they're out.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fair Use Synchronicity

Some days, it just works like this: in the last 24 hours, two interesting pieces on what constitutes fair use have crossed my desktop.

Andy Havens, that inexhaustible fountain of interesting online information, shot me this web site from the Center for Social Media at American University. The Center has developed a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use, which they intend to "help...creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use." (I hope that this direct lift from their site is within the bounds of fair use. If not, just address the consent decree directly to me, and I'll sign...) There is also a wonderful short video on their site that points up the thorniness of this conundrum.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a long but intriguing PowerPoint presentation called "Disruptive Scholarship: An Idea Whose Time Has Come | Re(Use) / Re(Mix) / Re(New)" from Gerry McKiernan, an Associate Professor and Science and Technology Librarian at Iowa State University Library. McKiernan states in a cover e-mail, "In this presentation, we will review the Read/Write Traditions of the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences; analyze key Past / Present / Future Participatory Technologies; and explore the potential of Web 2.0 for creating/fostering Disruptive Learning / Scholarship / Teaching in the 21st century." A slightly different version of this presentation was offered at the 3rd International Plagiarism Conference in the UK last month.

America's Libraries in the 21st Century

If you did not get to the ALA Conference in Anaheim, or if you were there and didn't get to attend the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy's program titled "America's Libraries in the 21st Century," drop whatever you are doing and watch this program, now.

Three of the best thinkers and speakers in our business are on the podium, presenting in this order: Joan Frye Williams, Stephen Abram, and Jose-Marie Griffiths.

After a lively Q and A session, Dave Lankes concludes the program with one of his patented, soul-stirring, "Come to Dewey" summations that would make Clarence Darrow or William Jennings Bryan proud.

This is the best 90-minute investment you'll make in your career this year.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

News about Alane

I am sure all of you have been wondering what our beloved Alane has been doing, since she's moved North. Now I have a great answer: she's become the new Executive Director of the British Columbia Library Association.

We are so proud of her and expect to see even more great things come from BCLA now!!
Chrystie on why she loves Twitter:

From the LJ ALA 2008 wrap-up.

WorldCat Challenge t-shirts

Originally uploaded by bobrobboy
Kate Gaylord models the WorldCat Challenge t-shirts we gave out at ALA.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Word Spy

Having trouble finding the latest neologisms or tech terms that seem to enter the lexicon every day? From my colleague Andy Havens comes this tip: check out Word Spy. From its web site, this description of Word Spy's purpose:

This Web site is devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases. These aren't "stunt words" or "sniglets," but new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources.

Bronx Lab School Kids Tackle Bike Trek

I've mentioned Adventure Cycling's Underground Railroad Bicycle Route in this blog several times. Next month, a group of students from the Bronx Lab School in New York City is going to cycle the Ohio leg of the route.

To find out more about their plans, or to help defray their expenses, check out their website.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Branch Library Closings

Reporting (barely) live from the American Library Association conference in Anaheim:

Yesterday I was a very minor part of a panel discussion on public library branch closings. Christie Koontz, Dean Jue, and Wade Bishop from Florida State University reported on their study, "Public Library Facility Closure: An Investigation of Impacts on Library Customer Markets." (Full disclosure: the reason I was on the panel is that OCLC helped underwrite the research.)

The discussion was lively and covered a wide range of topics, but the important point is that this study begins to provide a framework for making conscious decisions about how to go about making decisions about moving or closing branch library services. Christie Koontz has been a leader (maybe THE leader) in encouraging libraries to use GIS data in the decision making process, and this paper extends that reputation.

The paper will be available after August 1 through WebJunction. We may even put together a message board and discussion around the paper and its findings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

OCLC Symposium part 3: David Lee King on the Mashed Up Library

David Lee King.

Web stuff—RSS feeds, Meebo widgets: new audience. The people on the public access computers use the Meebo widget to ask questions. Placed the widget at the “no results found” page.

Physical library-Digital library—“travel neighborhoods”

Patron-generated content—patrons can add sticky notes throughout the library experience. MySpace page, Flickr account, YouTube channel. Original content by patrons. Sometimes the content is outside the library’s walls.

Outside the box—Go outside the library—take your message outside the library. (Bookmobile, go online). Set up alerts to make sure you’re there when people ask questions. Be Comfortable with 2.0 technology. Computer is a way we connect with people/
Community requests—being a consultant to small businesses, be where people are. Be there at hubs, mobile areas. Set up shops in coffee shops, the mall, the State Fair. )(Be out of the building a lot more.)

OCLC Symposium part 2: The Mashed Up Library

True Story about a Horrible Business meeting where "we already do that" killed all innovation ideas.

*Intelligence is wildly overrated as a virtue.* What holds us back is not that we’re not smart enough. “Yeah yeah yeah, we do that”—self-delusion is a big obstacle. If we talked about it, it’s happening?

Internet designed to be a network of networks: exchange and share information (interoperable). Exchange, sharing and interoperability.

Real big potential win for libraries: on an organizational level: which partners, colleagues and peers should we interoperate with? For us as an organization (not just as a creator of technologies.)

The most important product of the Mines… (Obligatory Profound Design Quote) is the Miner.
(Not the stuff they did out of the ground. It’s the people. It’s the system. It’s the human capital.)

The most Important product of the network is the networker. The kinds of networks we build…depend on what kinds of networkers we really want people to be.

What’s the most Important Product of the Library?

Mission statements, public documents that answer this question.
(Readers) and (Research)
“A Scholar is a Library’s Way of Creating Another library.”
What SHOULD the most important Product of the Library be?

What institutional innovations and adaptations best boost your chances of getting there? (And who owns the keys?)

“Competition” –like “innovation"—is a means to an End.
Frenemies/Froes? Are people a competitor or a co-marketer?
Spectre of competition—Institutions seek protection, instead of rising to the challenge.

“Competition” is about Perceived Value from Choice.
Newspaper circulation has stayed flat since 1950. Average reader age: 56.
Newspapers don’t know how to compete. Reluctance to creatively compete.
Rupert Murdock always buys the 2nd best—he competes. It’s the perceived value.

Libraries as physical spaces that house books and artifacts= no competition. We’re great.
Libraries as information=huge space to compete in.
Libraries are creatures of subsidy rather than market forces.

How do your uses and user communities brand you as a competitor?
“Serving the community” “Serving the underserved”
Permit Competition
Permit Subsidy

4 particular things as suggested actions
1. Learning from our Lead users. (What is the segment of users that we learn the most from? Not just segments—but segments we learn from.)
2. With Whom Do we want to collaborate to Create value? Why?
(Collaborative—who creates value…what are our organizational protocols?)
3. Nurturing our Best Internal Arguments/Disagreements (be transparent—make your user know what’s going on. Don’t seal off the complexity
4. Establishing “Liberatory” (a mash-up of library and laboratory) that best attract talent and inspire hypotheses.

What does the institution itself stand for? Provoke new thinking and new value.
Success comes not from taking the path of least resistance but the path of maximum advantage.

OCLC Symposium part 1: The Mashed Up Library

Alice's note: Once again, hotels are not willing to provide widespread wifi access without paying through the nose in the 4 digit range. So Beth Gallaway and a few other library bloggers sat on the sides and took notes to post later.
These are them...

Full house! Lots of people here. In fact, the hotel staff started bringing in more chairs…

Andrew Pace kicks off the Symposium
Creativity Exercise:
What is your Greatest Resource?
What is your Greatest Challenge?
What if…(dangerous ideas)
*We stopped cataloging?
*We participated fully with the FBI? (Sienfeld’s Library Cop)
*We mased up Connexion x WoW=WorldCat of Warcraft…

Michael Schrage (keynote)

The Content of the Audience is more important than the Content of the Talk.
The economics of innovation:
How do organizations use models and prototypes and manage risks and innovation?
Emphasis: Managing the challenge of institution innovation. (immovable bureacracies?)
Is it harder for a good library to be innovative than an entrepreneur?

Definition: Innovation is the Conversion of “Novelty” into “Value”
Whose novelty? Whose value?

Innovation is a means to an end. (Not an end unto itself.)
Is innovation a spice? Or the whole meal? Forces the organization to address what it really does.

*Innovation isn’t what innovators offer, it’s what customers, clients and users ADOPT.

Mobile phone: How many of us know how to use more than 20% of the features of our phones? (This isn’t being innovative for phone companies to create new, little used features…it’s being wasteful.)

We need a different paradigm: Move away from “creation of choice” and toward “Value from Use”
Make the center of gravity= Value for Use. Measure THAT.

Ask your users: “What’s the most Innovative thing you think we do?”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

tweetle e-deets

I am very sad that I haven't had time to prep or show myself or my plans online. As it turns out, I'll be lucky if I get there, get my bags there, and remember my name once I arrive. But I'll be there at ALA in person for some good, old fashioned, face-to-face community building just the same.

And if you're really dying to know "what I'm doing" at ALA - I probably won't ever get to completing the profile or sharing my whereabouts. I guess you'll have to send that "follow itgirl" text message to 40404. C'mon, you know you want to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mundaneum and ALA madness

The mundaneum idea has captured at least some of the public's imagination lately. I should say, I've seen more than one article about it...
**other news**
But I am not going to tell you my ALA schedule, because, well, because. But suffice it to say, all of us at IAG look forward to our revels and conversations throughout the weekend. Especially on Sunday in the Palisades room for the Blog Salon. If you are shy, come in anyway because we want to meet you. I bought a new camera this weekend in honor of the event. (It turns out, you can let a baby chew on a mobile phone or blackberry without a problem. But digital cameras are not so lucky.)

I'll be blogging as always when I can. Maybe I'll even post up a few tweets!

Oh, and no, this is not my child. This is not me, either.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Reading with WorldCat

The Summer Solstice is upon us this weekend. The longest day of the year! Hope you have a fun weekend planned or already beginning, if you're across the pond. We're coming into prime strawberry season here in New Hampshire. Finally!

So in honor of summertime and reading everywhere, we designed a few WorldCat bookmarks. 8, to be exact. The idea is that whatever your summer reading programs are, you can add in the online component with WorldCat. Download and print more at a moment's notice. Enjoy!

I realized I might not have told you about this little effort, when I read Katie's recent post. And she's got a great book list going for summer reads. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WorldCat Challenge

Speaking of Challenges (see George's post, below), we've got the WorldCat Challenge game coming up at ALA. We'll be playing it in in OCLC booth 1448 and at the meetings. It's going to be a fun game that pits expert searcher against expert searcher to determine the most savvy librarian-user around. The best part, George determined, is that you get to yell, "WorldCat!" when you're done with your round, just like when you play Bingo.
I think the best part is going to be giving the Overall WorldCat Challenge Champion their very own iPod Touch. It's even engraved.
Brush up on your searching skills and come have some fun with us.

And...I was on the LITA ALA site this morning, to remember where all of us--the whole IAG gang--are supposed to be on Sunday afternoon for the LITA President's Program. (Hilton Anaheim, California Pavilion D, 4:00 - 5:00 pm). And then we'll all happily go straight to the Blog Salon in the Avila Room, same hotel.

Is it just me? Is it just this year? Seems like everyone is gearing up for a wonderful but action-packed time in California. See you there!

Kindle Tips

I don't know how I became the go-to guy for Kindle topics, but Fiona King just sent me a great list of 104 useful tips for getting the most out of your Kindle. The best part? The list of places where you can get free or cheap downloadable materials in acceptable formats.

Enjoy, fellow Kindlers!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

OCLC Syposium, and a Challenge for IAG Readers!

Andrew Pace wrote about the upcoming OCLC Symposium at the ALA Conference in Anaheim. One of the things the speaker, Michael Schrage, is planning to do is to ask attendees what they think is the one greatest challenge and the one greatest resource facing libraries today. He wanted to get some ideas about what librarians might be thinking on this topic ahead of time.

So, the gauntlet is thrown. Please use the comments function of IAG to tell Michael, Andrew, me, and other readers what you think are the great challenge and resource. And we'll see you in Anaheim, and the Symposium and at the annual Blog Salon.

Heroic Work at the University of Iowa

Did you hear the report on Saturday's All Things Considered about the way the Iowa City community pulled together to rescue the special collections at the University of Iowa Library?

You can also see a collection of photos here on flickr that document the process.

People care passionately about their cultural heritage, an important and bracing lesson to all of us in our profession.

A Great Conference for Library Support Staff

The Ohio Library Support Staff Institute is holding its annual conference next month. It promises to be another interesting and informative event, aimed at an audience that bears most of the front line library burden while garnering little attention, respect, or (ahem) continuing education funding.

This year's conference has a pirate theme (near and dear to my heart, mateys), but the topics are no joke: downloadable media, web 2.0 implications for libraries, using Facebook, and much more.

Side note: Several years ago, your original IAG bloggers, Alice, Alane and I, were speakers at this event and Alice created a blog for the conference on site. Blogs had a higher "wow" factor then, but still---a very pleasant memory!

The conference will be held on the campus of the University of Toledo, July 27-29. Registration is amazingly reasonable ($225 includes tuition, meals, lodging, and conference materials). The conference is not limited to Ohioans, so this would be beneficial for support staff from nearly any type of library from nearly any geography.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

i feel honored

The very good people at We Feel Fine sent me a letter to my personal flickr account. I finally caught up with it last night and here's what it said:

Hi, I'm contacting you today because I'm working with Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris on a book about feelings on the web. We found an image on your blog that we found beautiful, and we wanted to get your permission to use it in the book. The book is based on the website We Feel Fine (


Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been studying human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day.

Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20’s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life. (emphasis mine)

Thank you very much for your time,


I feel very honored to be included in this community project and in the book. I feel lucky that they found me and this post because it so exemplifies the work I do and the things I care about. The "I feel..." text (and image) that they picked up on is here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blogging is good for you

Sent by the long-suffering Val, this new article from Scientific American reveals the truth we in the blogosphere have known all along--blogging is good for you. It boosts dopamine, helps people make connections with other like-minded people, and yes, even fosters a sense of placebo catharsis that someone else is listening to my troubles.

If you're feeling blue, then it's time to blog. Would THAT be cool? Your doctor writes out a prescription: 3 tablets, 2 walks in the sunshine and 1 blog post and call me in the morning.

DID anyone else hear David Sedaris on Fresh Air last night? That guy cracks me up. Here's on a book tour for his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and was talking about Hugh, his long-suffering but always heroic boyfriend who can do anything. And random association time. Sedaris's being on a book tour reminds me of Patricia Martin's inspiration for Ren Gen--David Sedaris reading to a sell out crowd.

All of this is probably, as my friend and colleague Kate says, "fascinating, but irrelevant..."

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, June 06, 2008

WebJunction sneak peek

You may have heard about the new WebJunction, coming later this summer.

It's true!

We did a sneak peek with our WJ Advocates yesterday and (1) I was extremely proud of the staff who put the program together and (2) I was extremely thrilled with the initial feedback from a few of our most active members.

Thank you for waiting patiently, libraryland, for the new version of WJ to come around. You won't have to wait much longer, and I think you'll find that you like what we've started. It's a very nice place to build from, together.

If you're interested in the details, we're doing blog posts on the new site features (Next WJ tag over at BlogJunction) and we'll be highlighting the new services at ALA. First week of July, we'll do a virtual preview of the site in beta for a full release in late July.

Stay tuned...

Legacy Librarianship, and Upcoming Programs

Joan Frye Williams and I just did an extended version of our PLA program, "It Ain't Necessarily So: Challenging the Assumptions of Legacy Librarianship," as a webcast for Infopeople. The recording is now available on the Infopeople archive.

Next week, we're taking our show on the road. On June 11, we're presenting "Update Your Service Mix" at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg, Ohio, for the Northeastern Ohio Regional Library System (NEO-RLS). On June 12, we're doing a different program, "The Community Centered Library," at the Morley Public Library in Painesville, Ohio.

A good friend of mine, John Gardner, used to be the director of the Morley Library. He's a great storyteller, and one day he told me and a table full of friends a hysterical story about being a speaker at an Ohio Library Association conference. He had back-to-back programs to deliver and he needed to avail himself of the restroom in the few minutes he had to spare. He said he walked in, situated himself in a stall, then looked down to see that the next stall was occupied by someone wearing a pair of open-toed pumps. It was at that moment that he realized he had slipped into the ladies' restroom. The punchline to his story, which I'll remember until I'm gumming my Ensure, is, "It's really easy to walk into the wrong restroom. It's really hard to walk out." How many things in life does that bit of wisdom apply to?

See you on the road!