Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year in cities

Stolen from here:

Other than Tucson, the cities I've spent at least a night in in 2008.

Anaheim, CA (6 nights)
Las Vegas, NV (1 night)
Boardman, OH (2 nights)
Monterey, CA (5 nights)
Chattanooga, TN (4 nights)
Glendale, AZ (2 nights)

I think that's it for 2008!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thoughts on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9

First, holy crap! The box was the size of my phone book, seriously - a tiny, tiny bit longer, but that’s it. Weight is fantastic for travel.

Second, it’s pretty - I have the black and it just looks good.

Screen: really well lit - one of my coworkers is considering one after just seeing mine and noticing how easy it is to read it is. Well lit and wide - things look right.

Wireless - as easy as any other to pop right onto my home wireless, the university access and the one at the Phoenix airport (where I am at the moment).

Keyboard - this is where I had my most worries. I’d seen the ASUS eee’s and hadn’t been impressed with them - they were just a little too small for my fingers. This one? Dell did a good job with this. As long as I get my fingers on the right home keys, I’m good to type as normal. Very pleased with it.

I got the 1 G memory, 16 G hard drive, with XP and I think it will have been worth it - for what I want it for (work and personal travel and the like), XP should make hooking up to wireless networks fairly seamless, while I wasn’t sure about Linux (think it probably would be ok, but I went with the easy for this one.).

Because my flight's getting ready to start boarding, I'll just link to my photos for now

I'm sure after this trip I may have some updates with drawbacks, and will update then.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That how I became a librarian thing

I got tagged by a member of the LauraCon (secretly, I was quite excited to be tagged. I almost never get tagged!) for one of the recent memes - the "How I became a librarian" one. So:

Libraries were always someplace we went growing up, and when I went off to undergrad, after working initially in the dining hall, I ended up working in the library, where I keyed government documents into the catalog, printed the labels and stacked the docs on a shelf where the eventually got shelved. I also did prep on paperback items that came in - contact paper, reinforcing front and back covers.

I graduated, and my first job was with a payday loan company. I started working for them as a customer service rep, then became a branch manager, and finally an internal auditor. In the process, I moved from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro to Nashville in TN, then down to Jackson, MS and finally over to Atlanta. A note: after starting with this company in February 1996, I intended to apply to library school to begin in Fall 1996, but was concerned about more student loans right then, so postponed it.

About six months after moving to Atlanta, those of us who had been asked to move (this was after the original company was bought out - I had continued working for the original company), everyone who had moved to Georgia (there were 4 of us) was laid off in May 2000. We were given interviews with another company based in Cleveland, TN that was in the same business and trying to expand, but I didn't like the vibe I got from them. I'd been thinking that it was time to move on from that company anyway - I was holding out for a year from the relocation to be up.

I still wasn't heading to library school! I got another job as an internal auditor, this time with a publicly traded company, Oxford Industries, in Atlanta. This was a good job - and I started about a month after the layoff, so the timing was perfect to have seen the opening! I learned a lot there, and worked with some fantastic people, including both my direct supervisors, one of whom is now the Vice President of Capital Markets and Treasurer. I got to travel some with this position - including to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigapla in Honduras. I'd been there almost two years when my boss called me into my office and asked me if I wanted to be in her job in five years - and said that if I didn't, then maybe I should think about what I wanted to do. She wasn't firing me, and if I'd wanted to stay, she was encouraging me to take some classes in accouting at one of the local universities. But it didn't take me that long to make the decision - with about 10 days (I was leaving on an audit trip), I let her know that what I wanted was to go to library school. Within 10 days of that, I took the GREs (and kicked some serious ass), got my recommendations and got my application off to the U of TN School of Information Science. She kept me on until I left - and she didn't have to - and in August, I moved to Knoxville to start grad school. I graduated in May 2004, and moved to Youngstown, OH to start my first professional gig at YSU in September 2004, and last summer I moved out here to Tucson to begin my second one.

Am I happy about the change in profession? Yeah. Sure there are days I understand just what salary I gave up in the career change, and I know where I could be now. But being in a job where you are sick every morning before going to work does you no good and does the organization you're working for no good, because you're not productive. I like being a librarian. I love working with the students and teaching instruction sessions. Are there things I don't like about the profession? Yes, of course there are. But those things aren't going to make me give up on the whole thing. Because how many people would I not know if I hadn't done that? My life would be a hell of a lot duller without the vibrant librarian personalities I now know!

Unofficial Biography

I was born a …
Once upon a time...
In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court…

Laura, more widely known on teh intertubes as , came to librarianship after prosperous careers in the loan shark and sweatshop industries. She does her best to impart capitalist dreams in liberal arts students (the slackers!) the world over and hopes to be able to fully operationalize her plans of world domination by librarians within the next 6-12 months.

Outside of the library, her hobbies include scaring small children with her quality glares, enhancing her innate road rage abilities and yelling at the kids to get off her lawn. She is mortally offended by improper apostrophe usage and has been known to mutter “possessive not plural!” in her sleep.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Offline Day

Steven Harris over at Collections 2.0 points out this post declaring August 30 Offline Day.

I think it's a good idea. I've been feeling overwhelmed by my connections lately - and the constant nature of them. Between work email, personal email , Twitter, Facebook and all the rest, there's a level of overwhelming that's coming to a peak.

It would probably be mentally healthy for me to make a real effort to disconnect as completely as possible for a single day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Librarian Day in the Life - Just Another Manic Monday

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hit snooze once, actually got out of bed at 5:40. Got a quick workout out in, then had coffee/breakfast while checking the news and such online before taking care of that whole personal grooming thing. Out the door at ~7:24, over to the bus stop. Off the bus at the Medical Center, about a mile from the library. It's another 15 minutes of exercise that I can fit into the day. What with ALA, then being sick, I let things slide for a few weeks and I can already see that I'm going to be doing some rebuilding of the progress I'd made.

Made it to the office right at 8:00. Listened to message on the machine while logging into the computer. Started up email, web browser and while those did their thing, got my receipts together for a couple of reimbursements from last week. Made copies of those, just in case!

Checked Twitter and Gmail accounts, logged into Meebo to say hello in the LSW room, then got motivated.

Read work email - planning meeting time for the MBA orientation (it's only 3 weeks off! Gah!) now scheduled for Friday AM all the way across campus.

Attempted to take receipts upstairs, accountant not available, brought back downstairs. Went to the library cafe to get a bagel and that second cup of coffee that I suddenly and desperately need .

Back to the office to type up a slew of notes from last week and share with the rest of the group.

10:00 Meet with community user about research he's doing. This is always a point of debate with me:
I do work at a land-grant institution, and we do support the community, but how much time is reasonable to take for helping community users? I still haven't figured it out.

10:30: Back to typing up the notes.

11:40: Accountant in office, dropped off receipts for reimbursement.

12:00: Over to the McKale Center with a coworker - 30 minutes of (indoor) walking around the basketball court. Gets the blood moving.

12:30: lunch, checking email

1:15: Back up to accountant to sign off on reimbursement form, back to office to type up more notes.

1:40: up to admin office to pick up some documents, back to office to gather info for meeting.

1:45: Email from faculty member wanting to schedule fall instruction sessions for the second week of classes. Electronic classroom available, classes scheduled, email response to professor sent.

2:00: 3 hour meeting begins, one attendee has had something else that's unavoidable come up, so the meeting is cut short. Yay? Dash out the door to the...

2:55: Ebscohost 2.0 training. It actually started at 2:30, but I've got no problem with showing up late.

4:00: done with Ebsco presentation, back to the office to check/respond to email (never ending). Called back another community user who had a question, walked her through some of her options for finding the information.

(ok, the stuff below is anticipated, since it's only 4:45 here, but it's the plan)

5:00: out the door to catch the bus and go home.

5:30: made it home (finally). Quick yoga/strength workout with the Wii Fit, cook (ok, reheat) dinner and then time to work on a book review that's due August 1.

Finally, maybe, after that's done, I'll get time to relax. Woohoo.

Friday, June 20, 2008

ALA Calendar

It's still in progress, but this is my current tentative ALA Schedule. I know there's stuff I'm missing - like LSW stuff, tweep meetups...anything else?

Yes, I know I don't have it set right yet so you can't see the whole thing. Grrr.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

I may well be the last person in the biblioblogosphere to do this, but Library_chic tagged me with the Passion Quilt Meme.

The rules are:

1. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.

2. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.

3. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

Original at

What I want LIS students to learn is that flexibility is essential. We're in a position where libraries, librarianship and the way we have to approach almost everything about our profession. Things can change on an almost daily basis, and if a student comes in to this profession intending to do the same thing day in and day out, 99.9% of the time, they'll learn differently pretty quickly. Learning it by having it forced on you is completely different from learning it and embracing it.

That flexibility extends to so many parts of librarianship, from finding a job to performing those duties. Staffs in libraries aren't growing - at least in the ones I've worked at. Instead, we're doing more with less, and having flexible, proactive professionals in place is essential to having an organization that is effective in anticipating and responding to patron wants and needs as well as technological changes that will only speed up.

I'm supposed to tag five people, but I'm not sure there are five left who haven't done this. I'm going to cheat a bit and say that if you're reading this and want to do it, have at it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BAM Challenge #4 - Beauty


Serious failure. I attempted to find a book for this month. I even checked two different books out of the public library. I considered using a book I read several years ago, Beauty by Sheri Tepper, but that felt like serious cheating (yeah, I know, no one but me would have known).

Maybe I'll get one of the ones I checked out read during May, maybe I won't.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March BAM Challenge - Two for the price of one, but still on the last day of the month

I know, I know. Here I am, writing it on the evening of the last day of the month AGAIN. At least this time I finished my book a week ago.

And turns out, I've got two that I read that count. Well, the first one here sort of counts, but I'm so excited about it that I'm putting it here anyway.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Genre: Cookbook
Any and all ages.

No, I'm not a vegan or even vegetarian, but I've been working on adding more meatless meals to my repertoire (says the woman who had carnitas tacos for dinner). I've been a fan of Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance, and I saw this one on a blog...maybe over at Slashfood, but I'm not sure. I decided to take a look at it. This one is fantastic. It's got a lot of good basic cooking information - like what's Quinoa and how do you cook it, but also fantastic recipes. I've not made a lot from it yet, but I've been through it several times in terms of reading recipes. I can tell you that the black bean burgers and the chickpea cutlets are things of beauty.

My second book:

The Sunrise Lands
S.M. Stirling
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Age level: adult, older teen (particularly for violence)

About 20 years after the Change, when some laws of physics suddenly stopped working and the world was plunged back to a time without electricity, cars, or firearms, a messenger arrived from the Sunrise Lands, one who'd traveled all the way to what people believed to be the epicenter, Nantucket Island. He's come seeking the Sword of the Lady, whatever that may be. Rudi McKenzie knows what the Sword is - it's him, and the messenger's coming means he has to travel to Nantucket.

This continuation of the series that began with Dies the Fire doesn't disappoint. An alternate universe with the remnants of the old world all around. How, then, does this book fit in with the March theme of craft?

Wicca is a major theme - the McKenzie Clan, founded by Rudi's mother in the change year is a society where most of the society are practitioners of the Craft, as the founding members of the clan were Wiccans. Further, without any mechanized manufacturing capability, those who can work with their hands are true crafters again - everything that people use, from the bows and arrows that they hunt with to the food that they grow, harvest and preserve themselves is a true craft - but done from necessity rather than pleasure.

This was a good read, and if you like alternate universe stories, it's worth reading. I'm looking forward to the next installment, The Scourge of God, due out in September.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Book-a-month Challenge, February 2008

Why yes, I am doing this at almost the absolute last minute. In fact, I finished my book yesterday morning on the bus going to work. If it wasn't a leap year, I'd have been in trouble.

Title: Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food
Author: Susan Marks
Genre: Non-fiction, biography (well, of a fictitious person)
Age Level: Adult

This is the story of Betty Crocker, how the persona and image changed over time. For an 80 year old, she doesn't look so bad, does she? That 1986 version is kind of scary to me (image from here).

This was an interesting read - of particular interest to me were the depression and war years, and the way the company took the Betty Crocker persona and used it to help those at home when there wasn't much and during the war years when some items were rationed and others were in short supply. It's the story of a corporate icon that, in keeping with this month's theme, became part of the heart of the nation's kitchen. She helped home cooks adjust as kitchens became modern and in 1945 (at a youthful 24 years "old") was the 2nd most popular American woman.

It was a good read - I promise it didn't take the whole month to read it, but it's been a busy month out here in Arizona!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Women, social media and librarians

I don't know about other people's library school experiences, but I know that I heard throughout my time at Tennessee that librarianship is a pink-collar profession (usually in Dr. Bill's classes, in fact). I'm fine with that. Even though we have a lot of women in the profession, it doesn't keep us from doing wonderful things with social media.

Then, I see a post on a non-library blog like this one over at Web Strategy by Jeremiah, which also pointed me to a post on a new-to-me non library bl0g, Lip-Sticking and a post about X Chromosome Web 2.0 Rock Stars.

I'm reading these about there not being a lot of women speakers about Web 2.0 tools, and I immediately thought of us. Where are we? Are we willing to take what we know - and we do know this stuff, folks. I look at the list of 100+ speakers for Computers in Libraries, and I know that there are some kick-ass speakers in there who know their Web 2.0 shit. Not all of the people on that list are women and not all them are looking at Web 2.0 as a whole. Does that mean that what we know isn't applicable beyond librarianship?

No, it doesn't. Actually, I think that what we know is applicable beyond librarianship in ways we haven't even begun to imagine. What do we do well at? We know about reaching out to our users (if your library is like mine, you may even call them customers). We use these skills for training and showing customers what we have and what we can do for them.

We're on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Slideshare and so many others. We blog, we podcast, we tag. We do this in academic libraries and in public libraries.

Should we be reaching out beyond libraries and looking to teach those in other fields what we're doing? Why not? If someone walked up to our reference desk and asked us about these tools we'd help them find information about it. If our coworkers ask for help learning how to use them, we teach them. A lot of us are good at teaching and presenting. So let's go beyond libraries - not only will we learn more about what tools are being used by people in other fields, it helps us show that yeah, libraries are still here and librarians aren't these little old ladies with sensible shoes. In fact, we have a lot of younger women and men who are or can be Web 2.0 rock stars beyond librarianship. We have a lot of knowledge and skill. Let's brag about it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BAM Challenge #1 - The Time it Takes to Fall

My reading for the first month of the Book a Month Challenge is done. The theme chosen for this month was Time.

Basic Information:
The Time it Takes To Fall

Margaret Lazarus Dean.
Simon & Shuster, 2007
General Fiction, Adult

I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did - I tend to read a lot more science fiction and fantasy than general fiction, and I specifically wanted to break out of that with this one, though yes, I did stay in the fiction realm.

I ended up choosing this one over others because a)MPOW had a copy available and b)one of the subject headings was Challenger(Spacecraft) --Accidents --Fiction. I remember the Challenger accident very vividly, and the idea of fiction with it as a central theme intrigued me. What I got was something different, but still good. I got a central character who was just about the same age I was when Challenger exploded, which may have made this novel resonate just a bit more with me. This novel doesn't look at what it was like to be a child of the 80's, with all the cliches that includes. Instead, it's the story of change - and the ways Dolores & the others in her family deals with the changes. The space program and Challenger disaster frame the novel, but don't become overwhelming. While the main character may be a young teen girl, this is not a YA novel. Instead, it's a good read for adults who remember the excitement of the shuttle program and that awful day that Challenger was just gone.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

But where do we keep the stuff?

Over at, the December 2007 Viewpoints column discusses library collections that may not currently be considered important but that may become so in the future. James Cortada, the author, seems to focus primarily on collections that would be important to th history of computers, understandable since that seems to be one of his major focal points.

I've read it several times n0w, and what I keep coming up with is not that he doesn't have a point - because he certainly does, and it is something that we should be concerned about. Instead, I feel like what he's saying is intended to make historians rush out to their university libraries and start monitoring the collections, just in case we weed anything, so that they can protest any weeding (deselection, whatever) that gets done.

He has another valid point in his fifth paragraph, when he says:

We have the well-documented ugly case of the mid-20th century when they hastily microfilmed millions of pages of newspapers, in some cases so poorly that one can barely read them, not completely photographing an issue, or all the multiple issues of a paper that appeared daily, and doing it in black and white and losing the rich colors, for example, of late 19th- and early 20th-century iconography. This act was followed by the physical destruction of well over 90 percent of all collections of paper-version newspapers in the United States

However, shouldn't the question also be asked: did we learn from those mistakes? It sounds to me as if he is saying that we blindly refused to learn from those mistakes.

In the years to come we can expect others to join the list, such as possibly early editions in the Idiot and Dummy series that were sold by the millions but which are also discarded by the millions. We all know that someday historians will need to consult such books to discuss the role of computing in 20th-century life. How many other classes of materials will be lost if already visible trends are allowed to continue?

Every one of these items takes up space on the shelf - space that is valuable in today's library, and with a value that's constantly increasing. Can I justify keeping a copy of UNIX programming for dummies when the same item wouldn't be an appropriate purchase for our library today - not because of the subject matter, but because the treatment of the subject is too general for our library, in my opinion (computer science not being a subject area on which I focus).

I do like that he presents some options to the historians to approach librarians & work in conjunction with the libraries. Unfortunately, I can almost hear the conversations that could rise from this with *some* historians (hey, I was a history major, and I still know people like this). It's a slightly different take on the "oh noes! the library threw books in the trash!" news reports that we sometimes see in various local news reports, but the idea that:

The AHA should also apply for grants to fund a major survey of private collections in North America to discover materials that are currently not in the control of librarians, but which can later be acquired once libraries recognize that a particular collection is worth preserving.

is a good idea - but where does he propose that we PUT this stuff? Maybe Cortado can make a donation to a university that's long had a strong computer science program - so they can use those funds to process and house these items. I can't justify keeping much of it where I work.

As an aside, I did submit this article to Uncontrolled Vocabulary for this week - it may or may not get discussed, but this is my response either way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BAM Challenge

I've signed up for the Book A Month Challenge that will begin in January - if you're interested in taking part, go ahead and sign up. It'll be fun!