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Public domain photograph by: US Navy, National Science Foundation. Link.
I’m back at home after meeting with a lot of terrific librarians in four different states. March is the busy month and after last month my plan is “not getting in a plane more than once a month for work.” I’ll be speaking with my good friend Michael Stephens at the Indiana Library Federation District Six conference next week. I’ll do a wrap-up of the talks I’ve been giving sometime later but news for me is mostly having more free time to actually attend things and not just speak at them. Getting to go to programs at the Tennessee Library Association conference and the National Library of Medicine’s New England Region one-day conference about social justice has really helped me connect with what other people are doing in some of the same areas I’m interested in. It’s sort of important to not just be a lone voice in the wilderness about some of this stuff, so in addition to the SXSW stuff (and talking to a great bunch of library school students in Columbia Missouri) getting to attend library events as an audience member has been a highlight of the past few weeks.
However I’ve been backed up on “stuff I read that I think other people might like to read.” Try as I may Twitter is still for hot potato stuff [i.e. Google's April Fools Joke specifically, I felt, for librarians] and not for things that I think merit more thoughtful or wordy presentation. So, as I enter the first Thursday in over a month where I get to hang out at home all day, I’m catching up, not on reading because there is tons of time for reading while traveling, but on passing some links around. So, here are some things you might like to read, from the past few months, newest first.
There’s an ongoing theme in library programming: trying to find stuff that isn’t the stuff that’s already been done. While there are aspects of “Just play the hits, man” in a lot of the work we do, that doesn’t mean we can’t find new, original and/or interesting things to do with the huge amount of local cultural content that we have at our fingertips but that might not be common knowledge in our larger communities. The Library as Incubator Project is a site full of great ideas, lovely photographs, sharp writing by three UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies (and guest bloggers) outlining ways that libraries and artists can work together. Good ideas, well-presented.
I’ve been reading articles for the past few days talking about the ongoing debate between LibLime/PTFS and the Koha community working on a different version of the same software. Here is an article from Linux Weekly from last year describing the forking issue, the point at which LibLime/PTFS started independently developing their own version of the open source ILS Koha. Recently LibLime was granted the use of the trademark Koha in and around New Zealand according to their press release though it’s not entirely clear if a Maori word can even be trademarked. The Koha community centered around the original code at the Horowhenua Library Trust is concerned
that PTFS will not make a good faith effort to do what it says it’s interested in doing: transferring the rights to the trademark back to the community. They are concerned that there will be a legal fight and are requesting donations and other support
. Meanwhile LibLime appears to have lost significant ground to other versions of Koha according to the Library Technology Guide’s ILS turnover chart for last year
. Seems like a good point in time for the libraries who are using LibLime/PTFS’s version of Koha to step up and make sure that their own vision of the open source community and their products is being respected and upheld by the companies who they are paying. Further reading on this topic is available at this Zotero group
“Today, the marriage rate among librarians is the highest it has ever been with 62 percent of librarians married in 2009.”
There is a lot of data in the world. Librarians are good at using census data to help people find families, get local information and just learn something about the way the world used to be. Here’s a neat post about using hte census data from the last 120 years to learn something about librarianship as a profession. Did you know that the number of self-reported librarians peaked in 1990 and has declined almost 30% since then? I am somewhat curious if this is just because people with library and information science backgrounds are calling themselves all manner of things now [Is a taxonomist a librarian? How about a metadata specialist?]. You can read the full post, with graphs, over at Oxford University Press’s Social explorer.
I wrote 5000 words about writing 100,000 words. Here’s my essay on In the Library with the Lead Pipe about thoughts I had on writing for print in an era of digital content.
This is not anything you don’t know, but it’s a nice eloquent “why you should support your public libraries” essay in a place you wouldn’t maybe otherwise see it.
The local library near where I now live made five computers with an Internet connection available to the public around a decade ago, as well as wireless for those patrons who brought their own laptops.
I’m a recent resident of the area, but a deep family history means that there hasn’t been a season since the system went in when I haven’t spent a sizable chunk of time sitting and listening in the building, within 100 feet of those five computers. Except for a period when the wireless access was removed for a security overhaul, there hasn’t been season I haven’t used the wireless connection there.
This diary is a testimony to what I’ve witnessed in a single small own library.
David Lee King and I rarely cross paths, but it’s always great to get to see him speak. Over the past month he’s been creating a really good set of posts called 10 Tips to Do Presentations Like Me. Each post has a headline and an explanation of why that thing is a good way to do presentations. Of course everyone has their own way of doing things, but it’s nice to see someone who has an effective and engaging presentation style really taking the time to outline just what they’re doing that’s working. It’s not magic, it’s hard work and some attention to detail.
A quotation I liked from a blog I read frequently. Check out all the library posts.
“Show me a town that denies funding to a library, and I’ll show you a librarian who stays in the office. Show me a town that funds its library, and I’ll show you a librarian who takes donuts down to the fire department. Who goes down to the city hall and goes into offices asking if they need anything. You have to be proactive. It might come as a shock to some of you, but a large part of the success of that library is your personality and the way you treat people.”
Sometimes it’s a good thign to remember that libraries have big imacts on people who do big things. The ripple effect is hard to quantify, but it’s a good thing to remember. From my inbox
- Ronald McNair was one of the astronuauts killed in the Challenger explosion 25 years ago. There was a piece on NPR about his brother reminiscing about how McNair was adamant about using his public library in South Carolina despite the fact that it was supposedly for “whites only”
- Wil Wheaton, actor and blogger shared a short bit he wrote for a literacy project explaining why he thinks librarians are awesome.
- In the comments of that post is a link to this poem published in Library Journal: Why I Am In Love With Librarians.
- Another booster site that I forgot to mention earlier is the Library History Buff site. Larry Nix is a retired librarian and library history enthusiast. I’ve linked to his library history page many times over the years, but I’m not sure if I’ve linked to his blog. He recently did a post wrapping up the work he did in 2010 and pointing to the page he created for it. Good stuff, worth reading.
I don’t get time to sit down and read blogs as much as I used to, but I still see them scooting through my feed reader, or in the profiles of people following me on Twitter, or sometimes just linked in random places. A few I’ve been enjoying lately.
Connecticut Library Association has a great link round-up about the Enfield Public Library’s decision to cancel its showing of the movie Sicko in response to pressure from town council.
Under pressure from the town council to either reschedule or reformat the nature of the screening, the Enfield Public Library decided to cancel its Friday showing of Michael Moore’s 2007 film “Sicko,” which is critical of the U.S. health care industry.
The decision to cancel the showing, which stemmed from a complaint by a resident, has been criticized by the Connecticut Library Association, which called the decision “an insult to our form of government” and said that the library should be a “battleground for ideas.”
I’m not totally comfortable with Library of Congress specifically blocking access to Wikileaks for staff and patrons at the Library of Congress as confirmed on Talking Points Memo. Here is the LoC blog’s response which refers to the same statement they are giving to reporters and the press. The situation is, of course, quite complicated but I find this to be an odd precedent that makes me a little itchy.
I made a little video for Follow a Library Day and so did a lot of other people. I enjoyed this small awareness-raising exercise. It made me look up a few new libraries on Twitter, it helped me meet a few new Twitter-aware librarians in the larger blogosphere and it was fun watching it ripple across my group of friends on Twitter. No nagging, no hectoring. If you were into it, you could post a little something. If not, no big deal. Nice successful campaign folks, good job.
Bloglines is shutting down on October 1st. End ofan era, I remember that it was the first site I could use to see who was actually reading my site via RSS. And Vox.com is also shutting down at the end of the month. I transferred my content there, such as it was to a typepad blog which has been a long series of tech support conversations. I’m curious actually where those domains will even point to a month or two from now.
And I get a lot of library news from the pretty disparate fields of Twitter and print magazines. I’ve been reading Computers in Libraries’ latest issue [Donna Ekhart and I share a column there] about social technology and enjoying it. Wishing more of the content was online and linable. And Twitter just this afternoon has pointed me to some great blog posts like this one by Dale Askey about Yale’s new University Librarian and his utter lack of librarian-type qualifications. Strong stuff, and well put.
I’ll continue to use NetNewsWire (for all Mac devices) as my RSS reader, being slightly behind but not buried, as usual, and want to put in a plug for Sage, the Firefox plug in, for those who don’t want to hop on the Google Reader train. It’s a great time to be in the information management busienss. Thanks Bloglines, you had a good run.
“The Vermont Department of Libraries has been publishing Good Ideas irregularly, beginning in 1988. Each edition includes the contributions of many public libraries. This blog was set up to continue the tradition but make it easier for librarians to search, use and print the resources.”
I went through and did a whole bunch of adding and subtracting to my RSS feeds now that I’m feeling better (woohoo, the raring librarian, I also switched to a new file cabinet! *swoons*) so I may be reading some stuff that you’ve read a few weeks back. Of particular interest this week was Iris Jastram’s short post about someone trying to pretend to be a student in order to get the library to buy a particular book. Steve Lawson adds a little color commentary. Iris smelled something fishy and put the kibosh on it. Nice work. In related news, I am still getting the occasional email from spammers and other press-release mailers trying to get me to link to their blogs or review their books. If I get an email from a publisher, even a press release email, I always write them back and politely tell them
- that my blog is not a book review blog
- that I do not work in a library in a book-buying capacity
- that I do not appreciate getting emails like these
- that whoever they bought my email address from has sold them a bad list
I often get responses saying that they didn’t buy a list [is it against the rules to admit it if you do this?] and they just really liked my blog and thought I’d like their book. I’m at a loss. My particular problem isn’t terribly difficult. I block their address and my problem is solved. The larger problem of clueless marketing and (in Iris’ case, not so much in mine) aggressive responses to being declined seems to be a whole ‘nother piece of collateral damage from the economic downturn.
By: Jessamyn West,
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As per usual I’ve returned from holiday travelling with a lot of cool links to share and the admission that I’m behind on my blog reading — and this is me who is never behind, this is all deeply distressing to me — and I bet you are too. Anyhow, some things I’ve enjoyed reading over the past few days. I’m putting a Computers in Libraries column to bed today and it’s talking about widgets. I like talking about widgets.
- Phone box becomes mini-library – small community in Somerset turns old phone box into a lending library/free box for books.
- Portsmouth (NH) public library is having a documentary showing of DIY Nation + artist get together this weekend which looks like fun and a nifty type of program to boot. Plus I sort of stupidly like that they can link right to the book in their catalog. It’s 2009, how many of us can do that yet?
- One line update/coda to the Des Moines photography situation from the DMPL marketing manager “At this month’s meeting, our board voted to remove the requirement that permission be granted for photos to be taken in our library.” Woo!
- Curious to know what’s going to happen at the Hayward (CA) libraries when they go to a Netflix model for lending [pay up front, then no overdue fees]. Looking forward to seeing the crunched numbers at the end of this.
- In another neat model, ArchivesNext reports on the Amsterdam City Archives’ “you ask we scan” approach to digitization. There are some linked slideshows and further data. Interesting model.
How about a library christmas tree made of those nice green books? Would show you a photo here, but they’re “all rights reserved” unlike this nice shot. Worth the click through. You might also want to check out the Librarian in Black’s Gift Guide for Librarians and Book Lovers[thanks pk]
David Weinberger points to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution and the idea of “advice as process.” I’m going to keep this idea close to me as I move through another year of moderating Ask MetaFilter: “giving advice is a social activity, not merely a transfer of purported knowledge.” How much of what we do as librarians is reference and how much is advice?
“In December of 1957 a comic book was published that really did threaten the future–at least the future of American segregationists. Carefully preserved in the special collections of several academic libraries, such as The Smithsonian Institution, Morehouse College, and Stanford University, The Montgomery Story, a 14-page comic book is, credited with being one of the most influential teaching tools ever produced for the Civil Rights Movement.“
By: Jessamyn West,
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…there’s an appeal to this bag and this bag’s story
“Did you know the [Boston Public Library] is America’s only public library that is also a presidential library?” Bernie [Margolis] asked me on one of my first visits. “It’s John Adams’s Presidential Library. David McCullough researched his John Adams here, and later became a trustee. And let me show you the Abbey Room, which is truly amazing…”
It was on my first tour with Bernie that we came upon a pile of canvas bags down in the basement. I picked one up by its handles and saw that it was unusually deep, stenciled with “Boston Public Library,” and considerably worn.
“We’ve been using these bags for the past hundred years or so,” Bernie said. “The reason they’re so deep is so the delivery man can carry the most number of books relatively comfortably as he shuttles them between our branch libraries—from the truck, up and down stairs, that sort of thing.” Bernie picked up one bag in each hand. “It’s best if you carry two at a time to balance yourself,” he advised.
For sale, via BPL, via Levenger. [10engines]
I was interested to read the Miss Manners column where someone complains about a rude librarian. I usally enjoy Miss Manners but was a little bummed to see her playing out old tired stereotypes, but I did enjoy the comments (yes, one of which is mine) telling her that librarianship is more complicated than she thinks.
I’m indoors refusing to move more than about four feet from the box fan. I am also attending to the last few emails in my inbox from people who sent me links or things they thought I’d like. Also I got caught up with my RSS feeds fairly quickly and now I feel like I’m reunited with a bunch of people. Not bad. Hi! Here are a few things that are worth passing on.
By: Jessamyn West,
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If you are one of those librarians who likes crafty stuff, you may appreciate the Etsy blog’s library themed offerings. All the stuff I clicked through to investigate seemed to be selling fast, but some nice ideas in there for purchase or imitation. [thanks @jjtaylor]
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A few folks have been buzzing about the proposal over on Stack Exchange to build a stack overflow-type site for library Q&A stuff. I was wondering about this, since we already have Unshelved Answers. A little Googling and I figured out that the software they’re using won’t be available to them after 4/11 [irony!], so they’re trying to get people together to support a hosted model. Go vote!