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iLEAD (International Librarians Enhancing Access and Development) Fellowship Opportunity
The Department of Library and Information Studies (DLIS) at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) invites applications from international students to its iLEAD Fellows Program. An iLEAD Fellow will be an international student taking the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) Program, supported by an International Graduate Assistantship (IGA) (stipend with tuition waivers requiring 20 service hours/week). More information about graduate assistanships can be found at the “Financial Support” tab at: http://lis.uncg.edu/prospective-studentsadmission/
The iLEAD Fellows Program is one of the Department’s international initiatives http://lis.uncg.edu/academic-programs/diversity-and-community/. Application form: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEJWVmpyQ3NRNDl6UjV2SG5Nb0xzaXc6MA
The application includes an essay of 750 words or less on applicant’s experience with and plans to enhance library and information access and development in your home country, especially to diverse and underserved communities.
Up to two iLEAD Fellows will be selected from the new incoming international students, starting in Fall 2013, on the basis of demonstrated academic ability, evidence of commitment to enhancing library and information access and development in their home country, and financial need. To be considered for the iLEAD Fellows Program, applicants must submit both a UNCG Graduate School application for admission to the MLIS Program and the Department’s Graduate Assistant Application by the stated deadline.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Lee Shiflett, Director of Graduate Study firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: librarianship
From the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) blog:
Each year APALA offers financial assistance to a student of Asian or Pacific background enrolled in or accepted to an MLS program. APALA also offers libraries and organizations scholarships to develop Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture literacy programming; these programs reach out to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families through the exploration of stories in books, oral traditions and art.
APALA needs your support to sustain and grow these important services to our communities!
Please consider purchasing items from the APALA Store. A portion of store precedes benefit APALA scholarships and programs like the ones mentioned above.
There are items to fit every personality and budget, including apparel, mugs, water bottles, cards, buttons and much more.
Please visit the APALA Store on CafePress.
Filed under: librarianship
There are a couple 2013 conferences that have recently announced their call for proposals. Are you interested? 1.
The 10th IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People ) will hold its regional conference 18020 October in St Louis, MO.
This conference will feature a limited number of simultaneous sessions that address the conference theme and/or feature international children’s literature. All sessions will be one hour and can take one of several forms, including but not limited to:
- Single speaker leading an interactive session
- Multiple presentations on one topic
- Workshop or demonstration
- Roundtable discussion
Proposals should include a title and a description of the proposed session (100-150 words). Also include the following contact information: name, affiliation (if any), address, and email. If the proposal has multiple speakers, please include contact information for everyone listed. Proposals should be sent to email@example.com. Please feel free to contact Susan Stan at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions before submitting proposal. Deadline for submission: February 1, 2013
The Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section and Education and Training Section of the IFLA (International Federal of Library Associations invites proposals for papers to be presented at a two-hour session in the next IFLA General Conference on August 2013 in Singapore.
Theme: Indigenous knowledge and multiculturalism in LIS education and library training: infinite possibilities
Submission deadline: 15 February 2013. Please visit the following link for the details:
Filed under: librarianship, professional development Tagged: CFP, IBBY, IFLA
O brave rose
This past week we had a visitor in the library who (completely without guile) commented that the library felt very dated and dowdy. He didn’t use the word “dowdy,” but it hung in the air nonetheless, while I shrank in my seat.
I had just finished bragging about how much space we had opened up by eliminating all the unbolted, unbraced shelving on the main level, and how we had a cool writing studio and a new education curriculum section and some new couches and easy chairs and rolling whiteboards with trim that match the furniture in the writing studio, plus all the art exhibited around the library, and the scary metal desks on the lower level had been replaced with serviceable hand-me-down wooden desks, and for heaven’s sake, since he last saw the place every wall had been painted…
So I gulped a bit, but had to agree. My spectacles had been re-adjusted to the correct prescription: the library is dated and dowdy. What was a smart-looking library in 1958 became, after more than five decades without a renovation, that house where the realtor keeps reiterating how cute it is, with great potential.
It was as if I had rocketed back in time to my arrival, three years ago, when I thought, my goodness, that library needs help — and no one disagreed with me, and in fact pointed out that it was my job to address this. Because if you have seen attractive, well-updated libraries, you would not place this library in that category. If pushed, you would agree it has a beautiful arched ceiling and tremendous daylighting, plus a great sense of space on the main level. And it is clean and well-maintained; in poetic terms, it is no longer quite so Theodore Roethke, and even has a dash of Billy Collins.
But my visitor did me a great favor, as I reflected earlier this afternoon, when the clouds pushed north of our freshly-washed city and brilliant late autumn light bathed our neighborhood. I stood on our deck visiting my six rosebushes, inspecting for damage and enjoying the last buds of autumn. The storm had pelted many of the buds into sagging brown clumps of matter at the end of rain-lush branches, but several flowers hung in there gamely, doing their best to unfold.
Rather than cut these buds to bring into the house, I admired them in situ so they would die a natural death and let the bushes form hips, the fruit of the plant. From spring to early fall, the trick to abundant flora is to cut rose blooms early and often enough that hips do not form; but by late fall, a kind and thoughtful gardener allows her roses to consider their work done for the year and go dormant until spring (which around these parts is February–a rather short nap).
The last buds of autumn are not the prettiest flowers. They are smaller, pinched from the cold, and bruised by rain; often — using the delightful language of rosarians — they develop “confused centers,” in which petals and stamens are jumbled together pell-mell rather than whorling outward with that lovely mathematical logic found in flowering plants.
Defending these buds as representative of the best of my garden is pointless. If these wizened gnomes were what roses looked like year-round, I wouldn’t bother. I have grown truly grand roses, in which buds big as a lumberjack’s thumb unfurled with triumph, their immaculate petals sheened with color, the flowers, at full bloom, big as my fully-flexed hand, their fragrance a seductive force-field. I also grow miniature roses, whose proportionate beauty, at their peak, is even more astonishing for their minute scale. These experiences are why I bother growing anything as fussy as a rose in a setting as challenging as a wind-swept deck. (I have bought, grown, and given away roses at least ten times in the last thirty years, always in less-than-desirable locations — too shady, small, cold, hot, windy, humid, or dry.)
My love for the last buds of autumn is strong and deep. In their improbable appearance in the sturm und drang of fall-to-winter, their pluck and their lust for life are inspirational. My challenge — and my responsibility — is to remember what a truly great rose looks like, and to accept that the last buds of autumn, however much I love them, live primarily as commas between the truly grand flowers that came before them, and the amazing flowers yet to be.
New library in Levin, NZ
I took gobs of photos in New Zealand with both my iPhone and my unwieldy quasi-prosumer Kodak (sometimes cantankerous, sometimes great photos). But except for the rare Antipodean posting, only in the last 24 hours have I moved these pictures from devices to cloud storage, and at that, with only the barest metadata and organization. Flickr is yet to come (bar for the one picture included here, from a library in Levin).
New Zealand was wonderful, and all there were amazing. I was treated to astonishing hospitality by absolutely everyone, from the conference organizers and attendees to my open source colleagues at Catalyst, as well as Jane at Booklovers’ B&B (tearing through her final edits on a book even as she tended her brood of B&B’ers). As I was cautioned, there was Much Singing, in fact, at the end of every major presentation the entire conference broke out into song, in Maori no less — an experience at once impressive and touching and sui generis.
I returned to plunge back into a deep work zone–the usual stuff, with an additional helping of Many Focus Groups for our architectural program, and a top-secret project that has involved many hours of research and study, thereby neatly consuming all available “off-time.”
I had to fly to LA six days after I returned for a SCELC board meeting, and I remember nothing of the ensuing weekend, other than sleep.For several weeks after my big-trip-followed-by-little-trip I was tired, time-addled, and haunted by a persistent tummy bug no doubt picked up from “airplane air” on the gruesomely long flights to and fro (though Air New Zealand is a gracious courier). I wanted to sit somewhere for at least a half-day and think about New Zealand, but hurtling as I was through my own private Fall Funnel of Fun, all I could do was slip my hand into my slowly-dwindling supply of licorice allsorts and have a quiet nibble (once my tummy was again up to having licorice).
Now the licorice is gone, the focus groups are over, I feel the antic nature of the first 2/3 of the semester yield to the quieter pace of November (for the library, anyway), and this morning I have a tiny bit of time because we were asked to close the library and stay away from it this morning while wiring was completed. NO PROBLEM, I said.
So in this brief interlude let me back up a little and provide the highlights of experiences and discoveries:
Licorice is well-regarded in New Zealand. Because of that, turnover is vigorous, which means I had the freshest licorice I have had in my entire life. (I picked up the licorice habit from my dear departed dad–he taught me to like even the serious stuff, that hard Danish licorice with a dash of salt in it.)
Hokey pokey is a flavor. It seems to mean something like butter brickle, only with a stronger caramel flavor. (Now my NZ friends are asking, “What’s butter brickle?” To which I respond, “it’s like hokey pokey, only milder.”) Hokey pokey is found in ice cream but also as an addition to chocolate.
English is not an official language of New Zealand, which like Oz is a country that appears to have acquired a respect and appreciation for its multicultural heritage. Note: English is spoken universally as far as I can tell, but it’s not a designated official language of NZ.
Wellington is like San Francisco (is like Melbourne, is like all my favorite European-feeling cities…). Hills and gardens and a bustling downtown and a gorgeous waterfront and people with important expressions striding to work in dark clothes and pointy shoes, and good beer in many places.
McDonald’s sells lamburgers.
Cell phone plans are ridiculously expensive–and I don’t mean temporary plans for travelers (see below, connectedness), I mean cell phone coverage, period.
I saw a brand-new library two days before it opened (in Levin, a suburb of Wellington)! Can’t wait to share pics.
Lamingtons are served with an exaggerated wink. The conference fed us nonstop and Lamingtons were featured at one break, and I was told it was on my behalf! Think very upscale Sno Ball (but without marshmallow).
I was able to get by for a week with two wifi-enabled devices and a hodgepodge of free and pay access, but I have become so accustomed to being fully connected that it was disorienting to wayfind through a strange city with static maps. Where was my blue Google Maps dot to guide me? I found myself under- or over-estimating walking time and distances and walking in strange loops (in other words, my pre-device life).
Whitebait fritters, rocket salad, and a Epic beer on draft: oh yeah!
LIANZA has absolutely the best conference banquets, ever: costumes and skits and games and dancing and great food and FUN. I apologize in advance to any NZ librarians who have to attend a library conference banquet out of country and find themselves nodding to sleep over plates of tepid chicken-with-a-pile-o’-rice while dignitaries drone. DISCLAIMER: I am sure some banquets are fun. I speak only from personal experience.
Pavlova! Why don’t we serve that more often in this country? (Hmm, perhaps because Americans are as conflicted about meringue as they are about licorice?)
Palmerston North was its own fine introduction to New Zealand, considering I was tired, jetlagged, and preoccupied with a conference. The conference took place at a racetrack during the off-season, and every morning we were treated to a view of horses being exercised on a racetrack against a backdrop of colossal mountains.
Te Papa is like the Metropolitan Museum: you cannot see it in one, two, or three visits. Amazing and infinite. Thanks again to my Catalyst friends who scored me a private tour.
My first night our conference hosts had us to one of their homes for a home-cooked meal. It was a great way to ease into the trip.
The last meal I had with colleagues was with developers. I had forgotten how endearing they can be.
I’ll do a photo essay before Thanksgiving and talk about what I learned about libraries and librarians (other than we are a magnificent bunch).
This annual award, founded in 2008, is given to any ALA member who has demonstrated leadership in promoting African American literature. To further the professional development of the winner so that he or she can continue to build multicultural collections and serve diverse populations, the winner receives funds to attend the ALA Annual Conference, tickets to the Literary Tastes breakfast and the FOLUSA Author tea, and a set of the Zora Neale Hurston books published by Harper Perennial at the time the award is made.
Candidates will be evaluated based on the quality and contribution of their project. Project examples include, but are not limited to, a program, display, collection building efforts, a special readers’ advisory focus, or innovation in service. Candidates will also be evaluated on the extent their projects promoted African American literature and highlighted its rich history and diversity. In addition, the candidate’s project should serve as a model for others, must be innovative and/or should advance service in this area. Candidates will also be evaluated based on the quality of their essay and the ideas expressed therein (clarity of content and form, clear goals and benefits of attendance, commitment to ALA and the library profession, enthusiasm, and potential growth perceived).
Interested candidates must complete the nomination form; they should also submit a nomination letter that describes their project. Photos, booklists, screen captures, or other forms of illustration of the project must be included. In addition, candidates should submit a brief (250) word essay explaining how attending the annual conference will help further their efforts to support and promote African American literature. Self-nominations are welcome.
Questions about the award should be directed to the committee chair.
The deadline for nominations is December 15. This award was won last year by librarian extraordinaire Vanessa Irvin Morris
Filed under: awards
Tagged: Zora Neale Hurston Award. ALA
The Libraries seeks a diverse pool of applicants with ALA-accredited M.L.S. or M.I.S. degrees awarded between September 2012 and August 2013. The NCSU Libraries Fellows program offers a unique opportunity to a select group of M.L.S. and M.I.S. graduates who will receive the degree between September 2012 and August 2013. Fellows will be appointed at the rank of librarian for a two-year term from July 2013 through June 2015. An option for January or September placement may be available, depending upon graduation date. The NCSU Libraries is particularly well known for its digital library programs, its technological advances, and its commitment to defining the future of librarianship. The NCSU Libraries offers Fellows the opportunity for rapid professional growth through assignment to one of the Libraries’ strategic initiatives, combined with experience and mentoring in a department. ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent advanced degree is required. Review of applications is underway; position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. See vacancy announcement with application instructions at http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/jobs/epa/fellows2013
AA/OEO. NC State welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation. For ADA accommodations, please call (919) 515-3148.
as posted on LIBJOBS
Filed under: librarianship
, professional development
I set aside my pre-LIANZA preparation to note that the theme for the past several weeks in LibraryLand is: be bold. (Warning, the following blog post is a babblish mish-mosh; I’m so busy I had to abandon plans to brew the White House beer for a local competition, let alone structure or revise this writing.)
Last week, Hachette Book Group announced it would “hike the price of backlist ebooks to the library market by 220% starting October 1″ — this, after ‘agreeing’ last May to re-enter the ebook market.
ALA President Maureen Sullivan organized a prompt and bold response, stating that librarians are “weary of faltering half-steps” and commenting, “‘Now we must ask, “With friends like these …’.” (To which Jamie LaRue added, “Maybe what we need is a smarter group of friends.”)
Sullivan has tasked ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group to develop “more aggressive” strategies — a great call to action, in keeping with her presidential focus on advocacy. This isn’t to suggest that anyone, including Sullivan, believes an ALA working group is the only response to an issue, or that the rest of us don’t have work to do, but it’s important that our association take swift, formal, and bold action.
Given that, it’s sad that one of the last editorials from Francine Fialkoff before her departure from Library Journal after a highly distinguished career was a meandering swat at ALA committees. Most of us understand that committees are part of the larger landscape of advocacy and action–not solutions in themselves, but nonetheless contributing to solutions.
I remember being told, ages ago, that 85% of information transfer among scientists is informal, and I’d be willing to agree that applied to library leadership, as well. Many a library leader germinated leadership skills, ideas, and powerful connections within the world of professional organizations. Look at the truly significant thought leaders, and most cut their teeth through organizational participation. To simply write off the role of committees is to encourage learned helplessness toward organizational action — to give up in advance.
Does ALA drive us crazy sometimes? Are there committees — even entire divisions — mired in dysfunction? Does a bear poop in the woods? All human endeavors are destined to be flawed and somewhat crazy-making; “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Work through and around the flaws (and if need be, shift your efforts away from the fully dysfunctional), and experience the usefulness.
Speaking of work to do and the faith and skills to make it happen, Jenica Rogers and peers in the SUNY network have spoken truth to the powerful journal publishers and their — no other phrase for it — price-gouging behavior: “SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013.”
To underscore just how radical this is, Jenica spells out that the American Chemical Society “is in the unique position of both approving programs and selling the content necessary for approval” — an egregious conflict of interest. (I’m wondering how unique this is, actually.) For this, the ACS extorts free labor from faculty who have no choice but to publish (or perish) — free labor to the ACS, but certainly not free to the supporting institutions — then turn around to charge increasingly high prices for their product. Jenica notes that “the ACS package would have consumed more than 10% of my total acquisitions budget, just for journals for this one department.”
N.b.: this also points to the importance of including librarians — or at least librarian-informed judgment – in the university program approval and review process; some universities understand this, while others do not. It is to Jenica’s credit that she has built the organizational relationships to make possible the necessary conversations to do what elsewhere would be unthinkable.
These collection conversations are being held in an interesting space of tension and change. Last Friday we held library design sessions all day, led by a professional library space planner. At one point, in a conversation about reducing print collections to provide more study space, the planner commented that accreditors need to understand that the assessment of the value the campus library has to reorient itself from being heavily collection-focused to the services libraries provide.
In some ways I believe (or perhaps hope) this is happening. One clue to that is the workshops our regional accrediting agency is holding: I don’t see one on collection strength in libraries, but I do see one on information literacy. But to see how far we across LibraryLand have to go, look at the standards for elite research libraries. Of course the collections in these libraries are important. But in isolation, these statistics are not much more than collection-focused bean-counting. Would you really want to brag that your library was number one in microfilm holdings? The statistics may provide some insight into the readiness of any university to support skilled research, but there are no meaningful indicators, beyond what can be inferred from personnel capacity, about the library’s ability to produce researchers.
And yet! As Barbara Fister keeps arguing (and as I wrote earlier this year in An ebook and a hard place), shifting the focus from beans to soup (as it were) isn’t an excuse for abandoning our responsibilities to the memory work that has been core to who we are for thousands of years. We are in tension with all of this: the shift from print to digital; the battles of ownership and access; the transformation from box-of-books to vital commons.
Imagine if the university accreditors showed up and asked how many journal holdings were open access — or secured by LOCKSS — or published by libraries or universities. Imagine too if the ALA LIS program accreditation committee held schools’ feet to the fire for producing graduates who understood (as much as any of us do) the complex publishing landscape and our roles in it as advocates and defenders — measurable with a four-hour closed-book final exam. If I’m going to imagine, I might as well be bold about it.
Meanwhile, my brain is a jumble of PowerPoint, workshop handouts, Convocation, pants-hemming, two weeks of meetings to be squeezed into one, and packing lists, while visions of Lamingtons dance through my dreams.
In the few spare moments I am allotted, I’ve been working on an article (a weekend project, as my weekday pattern is commute-work-work-work-commute-gym-eat-sleep-repeat), but in the back of my brain I’ve wanted to follow up on OCLC’s un-hire of of Jack Blount, particularly in light of my “I am the man” post several weeks back.
The article is about librarians and image — depressingly, one of those topics that, the literature underscores, is only assigned to library administrators of a certain age, though I appear to be one of the few women to weigh in on this ancient topic. I promise not to be a jerk: no railing about Kids These Days; no grotesque generalizations; a goodly amount of evidence — though when a Facebook colleague asked me if I was writing a book, I decided it was time to begin wrapping up the research end of things. (Were you aware of the Special Libraries Association Presidential Task Force on the Image of the Librarian/Information Professional, established in 1989 with representatives from a number of library associations?)
Like most of my writing projects, I started out with some working ideas. Some were irrelevant, some were validated, and several are being proven entirely wrong. I love this part of the process — like most librarian-writers, perhaps a little too much; it’s the phase where I begin learning something new.
My writing activity ties into my ruminations about the non-hiring of Jack Blount, because here is a case where an employer was absolutely convinced of the right person for the job, until the employer wasn’t. (Not for a moment does anyone believe that Jay Jordan strolled into a meeting and said he was wrong, he didn’t want to retire.)
I don’t know the reasons, and am not even that interested; but I was intrigued that there was no hue and cry to keep Jack Blount. After the initial pop of interest, everyone moved on. Had OCLC continued with the hire, and Blount turned out to be wrong for whatever reasons they uncovered, that would have been the defining information about OCLC for a good long time to come. As it stands, the un-hire became a non-event disappearing into the swirls of time.
So, good for OCLC. I cannot over-emphasize what I have said elsewhere about hiring: it’s a chimerical process, and if you have any doubts, even doubts you can’t entirely pinpoint, don’t hire. Pick up your skirts and flee.
The Sixth Sense
Then there is the flip side: for all we know, Jack Blount woke up one morning in a cold sweat and said to himself, “I should not take this job.” I cannot tell you how many colleagues have confessed that they accepted a new position — relocated to it, sold homes, took their families — and within days or weeks realized they were not merely not in Happyville but had been dragged into its Dante-esque antithesis, complete with howling wraiths and massive workplace dysfunction. (I recall a colleague describing university staff meetings, rife with discord, where one librarian would take off her shoes and clip her toenails–and this was a uni of size and reputation.)
I’ve not once heard anyone say they later had second thought
Library Admin is Fun!
Sarah has a great post about her transition to library administrator. Because she feels awkward in that cloth she’ll likely do great.
Naturally, being The Man myself (a few times over), I have my own twist on her observations.
There’s a fine line between being transparent and over-sharing. I don’t believe in transparency so much as translucency. My own boss is a great example of how to share just enough. She’s frank and informative and helps place the world in context, and she finds the positive spin on things or the right solution for the right time. And there are things she doesn’t share with me at the time that I’m glad she withheld (and equally honored that she later shared) — and I’m guessing that’s the tip of the iceberg. I follow her lead.
A lot of my role as The Man is about managing communications: internal, external, whatever — from the signs on the wall to the emails to the masses. I recall a thread on Facebook where a librarian fumed (in a post phrased as a question — not too passive-aggressive, eh) that her director insisted on reviewing all external communications.
Well, yeah, I hope so (though of course in larger institutions that’s managed by a marketing person or an entire department). This is one area where you will need to recommunicate your message frequently. Let me take it farther: I set and enforce expectations for how we will engage with our constituents one-on-one. I do not apologize for being the chief my-friend-what’s-in-charge of message management, from the signs on our printers to how we communicate computer outages to the flyers distributed to the masses. I’ve walked into the alternative several times in my career and had to undo a lot of damage. You need a united and clear voice.
The Man must be mercilessly optimistic. I’ve flogged that horse so much it found a lawyer and is suing, but I’ll say it again. I can tell it’s time for vacation because it’s becoming a little difficult to be perky and upbeat, but you know what? I’m being paid to be perky and upbeat. Once I walk in the library, that’s my assigned take on the universe. I try very hard to share “good news” as often as I can.
Not only that, it’s my job to ensure that the “optimistic spin” pervades the workplace as much as possible, and to honor and uplift the good moments while deflecting, or at least delaying, the inevitable buzzkill. There are people on this planet who in the name of “just being realistic” have a knack for popping party balloons before the cake has been served; it’s their world-view. Sometimes you will need to sit on them. There will be time to fix the inevitable glitches or problems. People — and that includes you, dear Man — deserve the right, and have the need, to bask in a good moment–to feel a little joy.
Sarah is also right about developing a suit of armor for the people who will never Approve of you… or who project situational Disapproval when you make an unpopular decision. We all want to be liked, but you can’t be the Man and always be liked. Get on that chainmail vest and get over it.
Part of optimism is persistence; a sense of humor helps too. For the last year I have led a “small” project involving an interactive whi
As you prepare to go to ALA conference...or really any workshop, CE opportunity or speech...you need to read and own my friend Ingrid's blog post at Magpie Librarian
on badly behaved librarians. And if you see yourself in her post, please, would you keep it down? The rest of us are trying to listen - and not to YOU!Image: 'IMG_6851'' http://www.flickr.com/photos/24630636@N03/6976435455
Hey-yell yes! The always provocative Hi Miss Julie
has a fascinating series of blog posts about to begin that are based on her hilariously skewed recent tweet, "Children's librarians will always survive. We are adored. We are loved. We are the glitter covered cockroaches of the library world".
She goes on in her first post on this subject to tell librarians from all types of libraries to follow the model of what youth services librarians do to find their karmic pathway to success: "we provide unique, superior value and we make sure people know about it. Also, we’re the nicest people in the library world, and that keeps people coming back."
Julie will be following her first post with a series of posts on services children's folks do really well. I can't wait. Now where's my glitter?Image: 'iPhone Background - PARTY!!!' http://www.flickr.com/photos/60057912@N00/5596912586
I read a post by Jessica Olin over at Letters to a Young Librarian
that really got me thinking. In it she reflects on what it is that motivates her to reach out and beyond herself to stay fresh in her work. She read Daniel Pink's book Drive
and talks about his use of the mathematical concept asymptote. As Jessica writes, Pink "uses this concept to talk about motivation and skill mastery and about how, if you're really passionate about something, developing your practice never stops.""If you're passionate about something, developing your practice never stops."
Those words really struck me. I think they encompass the difference between a great worker and an adequate or poor one. When I look at colleagues I work (and have worked with) with at my libraries (at all position levels), colleagues professionally in my state and across the country, colleagues online and on social media sites, I know I most appreciate those who constantly strive and look for ways to do a better job and learn more each and every day. They listen to the public and peers and leap out with great service.
They help ME learn. They help colleagues learn. They share ideas and enthusiasm generously and constantly. They aren't afraid to try, fail and try again. They are collaborative. They care passionately about making life better for the customer. They are intrigued by solving the puzzle of advancing librarianship.
It isn't who they know. It isn't how much they know. It isn't how much knowledge and expertise they "own". It's how they process the things they see and hear to build consistently better service in collaboration with co-workers and the public.
And they don't stop. They don't phone it in after 10, 20, 30, 40 years of work. They bring it and they bring it every day for their customers. When they feel badly managed, they bring it. When funding collapses, they bring it. When doors close in their face, they bring it. When their personal life is challenging, they bring it.
I'm not sure I'm enough of an uber-manager or colleague to help create that passion and ongoing commitment to developing practice where it has never existed or simply no longer exists. I don't know if I have the skills to expand very narrow passions ("I just want to be a grandma to the little kids and do storytimes"; "I know everyone in town, but you don't"; "I have a skill but it's mine and I'm not sharing."; "I served on state library association board once and I'm done with that forever").
But I know the people who truly are passionate, who have that "extra", are the ones that are most satisfied with their work, the most worry-free and take the most pleasure from the sharing, learning, collaboration and innovation they help create. They love the moment that they step into work each day even if the challenges they face are discouraging. They don't give up. And they never stop developing their practice.
Are you someone like that?Image: 'IMG_1904' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45339532@N00/95202050
Jenica has a post about applying to academic library jobs well worth reading by anyone in the job market. But in my head I’ve been writing the following post for a very long time… so out with it.
Once you have interviewed for a library position, you have established a relationship with that institution and its interview team that stays on your permanent record–yes, the one you were warned about in the first grade. Your paths may never cross again — at least that you are aware of — but you’ve now had an intimate encounter with a number of people who spent an awful lot of time asking themselves if you were the right person for that position.
Perhaps you walked out of the interview and thanked Baby Jeebus you had the common sense not to work for those nut jobs. Perhaps you downed a quart of Rocky Road in a convenience-store parking lot on the way home, just so you’d stop crying, because you knew you blew it.
(Note: herein I break the narrative to state that I have never once believed I nailed the job interview–not ever.)
Perhaps you just had a big ol’ bucket of meh when you walked out of there — nice people, but not a fit for you or for them. Or maybe you immediately had another interview for the AMAZING LIFE-CHANGING JOB, and the other position pales in comparison.
Regardless, do the following:
* Write a thank-you letter, immediately. You can do it by email or you can do it by hand, but write that note and thank the head of the interview team (at minimum) for the opportunity to interview. Yes, even if you think they are all devil-worshippers, or even if you are completely dazzled by that AMAZING LIFE-CHANGING JOB. Write it. Now.
* Exercise patience. Everyone who interviewed you now has to recoup that time to catch up on whatever they didn’t get done during the interview process.
* File away your interview errata where you can tap it later. Like, possibly, decades later. Because they have it on file, too.
* Follow the guidelines for inquiring about the status of the position. You do not have to sit on your hands, but if they say email but don’t phone, then DON’T PHONE.
* Understand that in today’s litigious environment, the interviewer may not want to help you understand where your interview could have been better (I do get asked this question).
* Look for signs of an open door. If the head of the interview committee invites you to apply for future positions, take that at face value. You would be surprised how often interview teams see a quality candidate who isn’t a fit for a particular job and hope they can invite them back someday.
* Sometimes interview teams behave badly. Sometimes paperwork is lost or misdirected. Sometimes major life events interrupt the process. Regardless, under no circumstances should you write the interview team to berate them for not following up. (Yes, I have witnessed this.) If before you were forgotten, now you have made yourself completely unforgettable, and not in a nice way. If a polite inquiry or two doesn’t do the trick, thank your lucky stars you aren’t working there, and press on.
Last week the ever-interesting Barbara Fister observed over on Inside Higher Ed,
People are beginning to notice that big publishers are not really all that interested in authors or readers; they are interested in consolidating control of distribution channels so that the only participants in culture are creators who work for little or nothing and consumers who can only play if they can pay.
Barbara elegantly collapses into one sentence the last several years of the ebook wars and, even more importantly, identifies all stakeholders in the reading ecology: not just publishers and libraries, but authors and readers.
The Growing Crisis
Over the last year or so, there has been spluttering (sometimes from me) at individual publishers such as HarperCollins (they of “26 checkout” fame), distributor-packagers such as Overdrive, and of course, the idiot library administrators who sign contracts they obviously haven’t read, or they would never have entered into those agreements, right? (That spluttering definitely didn’t come from me, being one of those administrators.)
But Barbara is pointing out that while the problem has many moving parts, the entire reading ecology is at risk; we are, in her terms, in an “apocalypse.” It is really nothing less than an outright assault on fair use; the publishing-industrial complex won’t be happy until readers are paying, not just by the title, but by the page-turn.
Barbara and I have an interesting convergence: we are both librarians-authors-readers (except she can write entire books, while my attention span ends at the essay). By author, I mean (full disclosure: HUSTLE AHEAD!) non-industry writing, such as the forthcoming The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage (Roost Books, Fall, 2012; edited by Lisa Catherine Harper and Caroline Grant), in which you will find my revised and republished essay, “Still Life on the Half-Shell” (first published in Gastronomica) about oysters, the locavore movement, and how I came to terms with life in Tallahassee. My essay includes exquisitely clear instructions on eating oysters Southern-style (complete with a photograph), making Cassoulet an obvious “must buy” for all library collections.
But my point isn’t about whether I am expecting to make a living from essays such as “Half-Shell.” My day job is my income; I can’t even remember if I am getting a small one-time payment, though I had such good editorial input from Lisa and Caroline that the revision process was its own mini-post-grad workshop, and I have a food essay floating out there that is significantly better for the lessons learned for “Half-Shell.”
My point is that it’s important, both ethically and strategically, for advocates of the right to read to understand that creators should have the option and the right to make a living from their creations, and that our advocacy, right now, at this moment in history, is crucial to ensure that right.
It’s also the reader’s right to support creators, which they can do either directly (buy my book!) or indirectly (fund libraries, and they will buy my book). Some of us in society will “buy” books, by way of funding libraries, that we never read ourselves or that we choose to purchase on our own, but we understand that the town pump benefits everyone — a take on the world that is less popular in certain circles, but only underscores our value to society.
0 Comments on Between an ebook and a hard place as of 1/1/1900
As many of you know, last week Random House raised its Overdrive ebook pricing a lot. Not 20-percent-a-lot. More like 300-percent-a-lot. Enough so that a cart of 9 ebooks I had in Overdrive, only some of which were Random House, suddenly bloated to nearly $500 before I deleted the RH titles… dropping the total to $78.
Here’s how this price increase impacts the reading ecology:
If librarians fill demand for RH titles, we have to buy fewer books from other publishers… not to mention fewer RH copies. If you’re responding to user demand for the most popular titles, that means more small publishers go on the chopping block. (Adios, Cassoulet!)
If you reduce the number of RH copies you purchase, your users now have much longer hold waits for these books. Like everything else in life these days, something that is a public good is rationed through an increasingly narrow funnel.
If librarians do as I did and stop buying RH ebook titles (because I’m not running a public library, and our popular-reading is important but not our top-tier priority), readers who want these books only have the paper option. You may say that’s perfectly fine, but stay with me while I detour to discuss in brief one of the less-insightful commentaries that emerged.
Over on TechCrunch, a writer opines that this price increase is a necessary evil. Devin writes, “These companies are faced, after all, with the prospect of selling one book and having it lent to a hundred people at once (though that is not the case here)” — my emphasis.
Right, it’s not the case here. The way Overdrive works, books are “checked out” just like paper books. These books can’t be renewed, and they can’t be loaned to others. One person, one book. We’re all aware it’s a horseless carriage of a workaround based on a known model, but all the players do get how it works.
Furthermore — and this is where the comment about paper comes in — for all the enormous, sparkling crocodile tears trickling down the face of Random House, as Bobbi Newman pointed out on Twitter, they had a boffo good year last year in re profits, and a lot of that was due to ebooks.
Why shouldn’t they have had a good year? They now have a supply channel that (to turn the publishing industry’s own NewSpeak back on itself) is almost frictionless. They don’t have to print, predict, ship, store inventory, ship it back when it’s not sold, or pulp it. I’m no tax lawyer, but I also suspect that publishers get a major revenue boost by no longer having taxable inventory sitting in physical warehouses.
And of course, publishers aren’t turning any of this revenue over to the people who make the books worth reading — the authors.
If you read the ensuing comments on the TechCrunch post, you’ll see that the author subscribes to the publishing-world-is-going-away model (or at least backpedals to that idea, in the face of indignant responses). In this model, if I’m reading him correctly, the publisher’s behavior is rational (if not appropriate) because they’re raking in money before Everything Changes and the current publishing model disappears — which I suppose we could label as thoughtful behavior for publishing execs whose children expect to go to college.
I won’t spend more time guessing what this writer believes, but what I believe in is nothing less than Ranganathan’s First Law: Books ar
The sight of a ‘children’s room’ in a public library just after school hours is enchanting…they pour into its doors, the crowd of children, well-dressed, poorly clad, boys, girls, big, small, all with an assured air of welcome, comfortably, easily, happily at home among bookshelves as they are in no other spot. Thirty years ago nobody would have dreamed of such a golden picture as a possibility.
So wrote the novelist Dorothy Canfield Fisher in Children’s Library Yearbook Number One, a 1929 volume reviewing what might have been called, in the idiom of the time, three decades of progress.
But specialized work with children in the burgeoning public libraries was well underway before 1899. It didn’t spread from the storied cities of the Northeast, with their intellectual eminence; it arose almost simultaneously in many scattered locales. None were more representative of the children’s library movement, however, than Cleveland and Pittsburgh—cities of the industrial heartland with large immigrant populations and, crucially, a succession of gifted, forceful librarians who met a prevailing need in a historic partnership.
William Howard Brett was an accidental librarian. Born in 1846, he repeatedly tried to enlist in the Union Army—once putting a slip of paper in his shoe inscribed with the number 18, so he could honestly say he was “over eighteen”—until, in the last year of the war, he passed muster as a drummer boy. After the war his attempt to go to college foundered for lack of funds. But he was an avid, discerning reader and made his mark selling books—first in his native Warren, Ohio, then at the big Cleveland bookstore Cobb & Andrews. When the post of city librarian became vacant in 1884, who better qualified?
The Cleveland Public Library—originally the Public School Library—was then housed on the second and third floors of Board of Education headquarters. In the circulation department, borrowers waited at a high counter for an attendant to fetch the requested books. No one under fourteen could get a card.
As a bookseller, Brett knew two big things that the cloistered librarian didn’t: the value of browsing among books and the importance of books to children. He brightened up the quarters, and made them comfortable; he cataloged the collection by the new Dewey system. And with added space, a few years later, he arranged the nonfiction in alcoves by subject and allowed readers to go to the bookcases. In a large city library, where the borrowers were strangers to the staff, open shelves were a daring innovation.
Brett had audacity. A year after taking office, he submitted an article to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, called “Books for Youth,” soliciting a donation of $5,000 (about $125,000 today) to build up a collection of reputable children’s books. Youngsters shouldn’t be reading “worthless and corrupt literature,” he wrote, because the library didn’t have enough copies of Louisa May Alcott titles to meet the demand. No concerned citizen responded, but the article was reprinted in Library Journal, with an editorial salvo, and launched Brett as a children’s library advocate. In later years, Anne Carroll Moore was reputed to have called Brett “the first great children’s librarian.” The quote may be apocryphal, but the tribute rang true, and stuck.
Brett’s polemic against trash also expressed a common sentiment. In those days, you didn’t have to be stodgy to look askance at Martha Finley’s Elsie Dinsmore or Horatio Alger’s heroes. What enlightened grownup didn’t?
The Cleveland Library was then, like many others, serving children through the schools. But the popularity of the school collections only demonstrated to Brett “the pressing need of a system of branch libraries and delivery stations in a city so widely extended as our own.” In 1892, the library opened the first of four branches in existing buildings; fro
By: Erica Olsen,
Blog: Librarian Avengers
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Librarians: You know how it goes.
You are out partying with your librarian friends. Suddenly you realize that your gathering requires a suitable soundtrack. A library-themed soundtrack. Indeed, without the proper music, the event will be a disaster!
It could happen. The worst case scenario is sobering: everyone ends up hopping around to the They Might be Giants’ album “Flood” until the police show up and ticket you with a noise violation.*
Using a combination of technology and powerful query-typing skills, I have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. Introducing Dancing on the Reference Desk, a free playlist dedicated to libraries, librarians, and their interests.
Including such timeless classics as Ch-Check it Out by the Beastie Boys, and Lady Writer by Dire Straits make sure your next librarian rave is a success with this excellent compilation.
Note: I’m not associated with Spotify, but I do think they are pretty awesome. If you end up using this soundtrack let me know. I would love to attend some rocking librarian parties vicariously.
I dictated this entire blog post to my iPhone via Dragon Dictate while spooning nutrient-rich goop into the baby’s mouth. Special thanks to Jenny Klumpp
who provided numerous excellent suggestions.
* This actually happened. I was in grad school hopping around with my fellow nerds, watching the Muppet Show and listening to TMBG. We chipped in to pay the ticket. This was in my experience hands-down the Dorkiest. Police Intervention. Ever.
- Hot Librarian Necklace
- Virgin/Whore = Librarian/Librarian
- Rock Rock Rock n’ Roll Librarian
Barbara Bader’s “Cleveland and Pittsburgh Create a Profession” looks at a time when place really mattered and where you worked was far more allied to what you did than it is today. Certainly, you would learn from your distant colleagues via professional associations and journals, but change in librarianship happened building by building. Reading Bader’s account I’m struck by the concreteness of everything–Effie Power moving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh; Frances Olcott’s “Library Day” programs on summer playgrounds; William Howard Brett literally carving out space to make a children’s room. All of this still goes on, of course, but what will the ebook future hold? You can now go to library school from your home and check out books the same way. With public libraries currently so tied to geographically dependent funding, how will they fare as their physical location matters less and less?
Shaddup, that's Betsy on the right.
This coming Saturday, I’ll be introducing my old friend Betsy Hearne at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, where she will be delivering the Barbara Elleman Research Library Lecture. 25 bucks for lunch with Betsy and me at noon; the BERL lecture (hey Barbara–how’s it feel to be an acronym?) is at 2:00 PM and free with admission to the museum. Like Anne Carroll Moore, Bertha Mahony Miller, and Ellen Robillard O’Hara before her, Betsy Gould Hearne is a true three-named Great Lady Legend and you shouldn’t miss this chance to hear her speak.
By: Roger Sutton
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves
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Like you (I’m guessing), I felt my soul give a little lurch at the news that Encyclopaedia Britannica was getting out of the book business to go online, all the time. Part of my reaction was nostalgia—when I was a child we owned the first four or five volumes of some encyclopedia that my parents had picked up as a supermarket premium, and I would browse them endlessly. As any devotee of the Guinness World Records or the Farmers’ Almanac can tell you, it’s fun to pinball around within the structure a reference book gives you: it has rules so you don’t have to.
But as a librarian, I understand that digital reference sources, done right, have it all over print. The online Britannica is no less authoritative, arguably more so because it is more quickly updated than print. It’s still browsable and inspiring of serendipity: having secured a trial subscription for the purposes of writing this editorial, I’m having trouble keeping myself on task. Wikipedia without shame! Less expensive (given you have the means to access it, which is a big given) than print and more compact—what’s not to like?
Here is the question for children’s book people, though. Does the thought of a kid whizzing his or her way around an electronic reference source give us as much satisfaction as the picture of a kid doing the same thing with a printed book? I thought not. Whether librarian, teacher, publisher, or writer, when we say that at least part of our shared goal is to promote the “love of reading,” what we have always meant is the “love of books.” (Some books.) What will our goal be once books no longer provide our common core?
This is partially a question about e-books. Yes, e-books are books, and libraries want to buy them and enthusiastically promote their circulation to library patrons, who demonstrably want to read them. But publishers complain that they need “friction” to ensure that library borrowing doesn’t take too much of a bite from consumer purchases, and libraries are put into the position of licensing rather than acquiring e-books, just another borrower in the chain. However, this economic tussle is only an early warning sign of the real problem that librarians and (as Stephen Roxburgh argued in the March/April 2012 Horn Book) publishers face: thanks to the leveling power of the internet, electronic literature doesn’t need either one of us, at least as we currently understand our respective missions.
But this is also a question about the independence of readers. In libraries, even those kids who wouldn’t talk to a librarian if their lives depended on it rely far more than they know on the professional expertise provided by the library’s staff, systems, and policies. Readers’ advisory is found as much in the shelving as it is in a friendly chat. When we are reading online, however, we are far more on our own, for good (we can read what we want when we want it) or ill (finding what we want to read can be an adventure beset by false leads, commercial interests, and invasions of privacy).
What can children’s book people become? I reveal my fantasy of what we could make of the future on page 16 of this issue, but in reality what we need to do is to redefine our gatekeeping role. Along with giving up any notion that the only real reading is book reading, like the online Britannica we have to believe in our own expertise and convince others that our knowledge is worth attending to. We’ve spent more than a century dedicated to the idea that some reading is better than other reading, an elitist position we can defend by pointing to decades of excellence in books for youth. Publishers and librarians together, we made that happen. Let us continue to do so.
I’m going to focus on some highlights, rather than rehashing the entire Library Journal Design Institute, but overall it was a timely, highly worthwhile event, a solid mix of panel sessions and interactive problem-solving sessions. Most of the attendees were from public libraries, but there were a few academics, and the ones I spoke with were in agreement that academic librarians can learn a lot from studying public library design (not just facilities, either, but services as well).
The informal theme of this institute — I think I heard LJ has done about 20 of these? — is, in Joseph Sanchez’s terms, “library as question mark.” Sanchez, from the Auraria Library at the University of Colorado, was on an opening panel where he and Matt Hamilton from Anythink Libraries talked about the impact of changes in the reading ecology on how library space is used, with a lot of conversation about users creating digital content. Traci Lesneski from MS&R talked about the library as extrovert: more transparent, more visible — a point that resonated as I thought about our library becoming more proactively welcoming.
Nevertheless, for all the talk about content creation, library gardens, gaming, and so on, implicit in all the sessions that day was the idea that when users walk into a library, they want to see people and products (versus wandering into an empty space – I saw this at a fairly new university library where my first thought was that the first-floor lobby was a missed opportunity).
Those products will probably include books, but can also include DVDs and other media. In some cases, the users themselves may be the attraction, on display as they create, browse, and read (not unlike watching the pizza maker twirl his dough). And build in a visible location for a helpful human presence — call it a librarian or library worker, but I hear the word “concierge” a lot these days (waving at West Hollywood!), and think that’s a good fit for that role.
There were tours the previous day which my travel schedule didn’t let me attend, but I did get the tour of Denver Public Library, which for me had several ah-hah moments. As one librarian, a facility manager, observed, I got the tour I needed. It’s a midcentury building about the same age as my library, and it had a renovation and expansion in 1990 led by Michael Graves. So their challenge was to preserve an iconic look and feel while bringing the library into the technology era. I don’t have those challenges per se, but renovating a pre-technology building with “good bones” is certainly relevant.
Two Benches, Paired
Plus I saw Michael Graves benches scattered about DPL, and thought, Perfect. Benches. Which leads (rather loosely, like a dog galloping ahead of its owner) to a point made at the Institute: the project lead for a library design need to be outgoing and friendly, but also firm. That describes me to a tee on my best days. (I will refrain from commenting on what I’m like on my worst days.)
The leader must also have strong and well-communicated ideas and opinions–like, those benches are a great fit — but be flexible. One strong idea I had early on (courtesy of Linda Demmers, a bit more on her below) is that our library would absolutely need a thorough facility inspection before any other design activity moved forward (with the exception of the computer classroom), and that’s wrapping up as I write this. (By the way, who knew there were so many ways to use asbestos?).
I was right, and sticking to my guns was the right thing to do. It do
I ran into a post from my friend Ingrid, the Magpie Librarian
this week that I really adore. She talks about the process she went through as she decided to accept another position in her library system. In this thoughtful post, she considers what she should share, how she should break the news to her patrons and when she should say good-bye.
Most impressive to me is her care in taking responsibility for the decision and not trashing and burning her way out of a job that seemed to have had some tough personnel aspects. She wants the transition for her patrons to be painless and wants to make sure her colleagues left behind short-staffed for the short term get the benefit of her planning and leaving updated files and info. Her tips are so thoughtful I had to share.
In the same vein, Jen the Youth Services Librarian'
s in a recent blog post revealed she would be leaving her job in weeks and shared the programs she had planned for the summer she won't be there. That is so thoughtful. Today on Facebook she posted a picture of the storytime mom and kids who surprised her with a goodbye visit. You receive in karma what you give. Both of these librarians do and will! Image: '004/365' http://www.flickr.com/photos/29559659@N03/6010519164
My friend Cheryl Becker has a great post
up at her site bemoaning how difficult many library websites make it to find contact information. She was inspired by the M Word
Man, I totally get behind this. I find that on so many levels, libraries make it hard on customers. Our website is a perfect example (I am not linking to that monstrosity; if you want to see it, please use your google skills). I can barely find what I need. How can a customer? On the good side, we are in re-design mode.
But then there's the on-line catalog. Eeeee-yooooo. People gamely try to get it to give them the info they need but it is absolutely non-intuitive. We don't foresee a time with our current vendor where the average user will be able to successfully use it without constant staff assistance. That makes it easy on the customer. NOT! It does mean job security for staff though. Hmmm, stealth vendor support of librarians?
Or let's consider signage. Why do we assume that kids can read anything that we have posted around the place? Why are we not relying on pictures and graphics to help our pre-emergent and emergent reading kid-customers find what they need? Gack.
How about information on programs. How many hoops do we make people jump though to get the information they need? One thing that has helped us is immediately posting programming on our website as a downloadable PDF as soon as we have it nailed down (even before any printed handouts are out) and putting out business-card sized handouts with bit.ly URLs pointing there. People can get a sneak peek months beforehand.
It's worth looking around at our work places, our websites, our handouts and our procedures to find ways to welcome our public by making it easy to use and peruse the library. I can't help thinking that it would help relieve nuttiness for all!Image: 'Nuts 1' http://www.flickr.com/photos/82607712@N00/2079743107
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First, context. On April 27 I attended DPLA West, and let me take it from the horse’s mouth:
DPLA West—which took place on April 27, 2012 in San Francisco—was the second major public event bringing together librarians, technologists, creators, students, government leaders [including IMLS and the National Archives], and others interested in building a Digital Public Library of America. Convened by the DPLA Secretariat at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society [John Palfrey] and co-hosted by the San Francisco Public Library [Luis Herrera was there--I mean, is this guy triplets or what? He's both amazing and ubiquitous], the event assembled a wide range of stakeholders in a broad, open forum to facilitate innovation, collaboration, and connections across the DPLA effort. DPLA West also showcased the work of the interim technical development team and continued to provide opportunities for public participation in the work of the DPLA.
The best part of the event for me was communing with and among so many nerds, including friend-nerds, acquaintance-nerds, celebrity-digerati-nerds, and even biblio-celebrity-digerati-nerds. My library school advisor Jana Bradley was even there, and how wonderful to meet up with her again. She was a terrific adviser, a real mentor, and she continues to do great stuff.
The second best part of the event was the sheer electricity of the day. There we were, at the Internet Archives, all excited about the nascent Digital Public Library of America! The speakers were lucid and interesting, and the event was well-captured in text, video, and even artistic renderings. The weather cooperated, and at lunch we fanned out into the sunshine and kibitzed while noshing on lovely box lunches. I had never seen the scanning operation at the IA, and it was fascinating and even touching to see beautiful old books carefully scanned for the world to know and share.
However, when I tried to synthesizing the event later on, I found myself agreeing with Peter Brantley’s assessment that the event displayed “a cacophony of wildly disparate visions.” Stakeholders were not in agreement on “the whatness of the thing,” to use an old literary expression, nor were they aware of this.
The DPLA has had this problem from the outset, beginning with such fundamental issues as what a “library” is. Nicholas Carr, writing earlier that month, noted that “Chief Officers of State Library Agencies passed a resolution asking the DPLA steering committee to change the name of the project” — since the DPLA’s goal, though it doesn’t quite understand this, is really to be the Digital Public Stacks and ILS of America — and then observed, “The controversy over nomenclature points to a deeper problem confronting the nascent online library: its inability to define itself. The DPLA remains a mystery in many ways. No one knows precisely how it will operate or even what it will be.”
As became clear in the discussions, what public libraries (ahem — real public libraries) want, for the most part, is the ability to purchase/license and share current ebook titles: the much-coveted product of the Big Six publishers. They want Hunger Games, not someone’s pre-1923 travelogue. The think-tank nerds want government documents digitized (and who can disagree with that, even though it’s not the top priority for public libraries). The developers want an amazing tool