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!

Monday, December 3, 2007


I admit that I'm still working out my stand on a lot of privacy issues - on the one hand, I take part in a number of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I've slowly linked Ellbeecee to my real name (though in a couple of spots it was already taken). Then I see things like the recent to-do about Facebook's Beacon, this EFF post about the sale of Live Journal to a Russian company (I have a Live Journal too, under a different name. I think I updated it a total of about 5 times), and this story about the Leesburg library's marketing efforts (news story. Information linked from the library website is here). Interestingly enough, I'm more bothered by that last one than the others.

Facebook's Beacon bothered me some - though I think I've got my profile pretty well locked down. It may not be perfectly locked down, but I'm also not putting anything embarrassing on there. The sale of LJ...well, that's new and bears watching, but I'm not up in arms yet. But the "Grocery store VIP cards" in libraries bothers me. But I'm still going to have to figure out how to articulate why it does as much as it does.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I've had this fermenting in my brain for a while, but as I come off the Thanksgiving turkey high and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this evening, there's something I have to say.

I am very, very happy that I somehow got mixed in with the Library Society of the World and my Tweets. There have been a lot of changes in my life this year, not the least of which was leaving my first professional librarian and moving from Ohio to Arizona to start a new professional position at a much larger, much more research oriented institution.

I don't know where I first saw posts about the LSW. It might have been over at A Wandering Eyre, Librarians Matter, Young Librarian or any number of blogs that I was reading then (and there are a lot more that I read now). Regardless of where, I'm just happy that I did.

Throughout the move cross country and my first five-ish months here, my online network has kept me going at times. They were there through my last day at the FPOW, when I held it together well. Until the last 45 minutes or so, when I completely lost all decorum. They've been there when I've had minor breakdowns at the new job - even if sometimes they didn't realize they were there for those :) . I got the chance to "meet" someone local, even if I didn't actually meet her until we were both in California for IL2007. It has been a lonely six months since I arrived here in a lot of ways. I'm not sorry that I made the move, but that doesn't mean there haven't been second thoughts and times of self-doubt. These folks, this online network, got me through a lot of those moments.

Thanks, y'all. Especially to the Neff and the others who thought up the LSW - and not only thought it up, but who took the initial steps that others could build on. So many of you helped, even when you didn't know it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to work

After a thoroughly relaxing Thanksgiving break, it's back to work tomorrow. I didn't hit many of the Black Friday sales, and didn't go to any of the early butt-crack of dawn ones - 4AM is too early for me to be shopping, unless I want to completely lose my judgment about what to buy.

Anyway, on the agenda for the week is a brown bag covering what I learned at Internet Librarian. Luckily, there are a few things in my favor, since it's been almost a month:
  • A good number of the presentations are now linked from the IL07 Page.
  • I do have pretty good notes from the sessions I attended
  • A good number of folks blogged about the conference, which should be a significant help if there are things I don't remember specifics about.
Right now, though, I've got the rest of today and apart from making laundry & turkey stock, I'm going to relax.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The inbreeding of social networks

I've come to the conclusion that my social networks are decidedly inbred. When I take a look at my Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter friends - or for that matter, almost any of the social networks I'm in - the same people appear. Sure, there are some slight variations - but for the most part, my friends on one network tend to be my friends on others. The network itself may expand slightly, but there ends up being a stable group of people, most of whom are also friends with each other.

The exceptions tend to be my family members - and the tendrils that spread from there. The core of my social networks are librarians, though. Which can make for interesting conversations - or boring ones, depending on your point of view.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Police/Crime Dramas on television

I don't get them - I just can't get into shows like Law and Order or CSI.

But bad science fiction movies (Like SciFi shows constantly on the weekend)? I can't leave them alone. I'm currently sucked into Asteroid. They're almost always implausible, with horrible acting (and often Tom Skerritt, though I don't know why). But I can't help it.

Currently on Asteroid, they're evacuating a Kansas City nursing home and an elderly man is pitching a fit saying that he won't leave. Why? Because they didn't take the photo of his wife and "He won't go anywhere without his wife".

It is better than one earlier - The Black Hole (and no, not the one from 1979).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What I wish I'd learned in library school

After reading this essay by Nancy Larrabee on, along with this NPR story, I've sort of been thinking about what I wish I'd learned in library school. I could go with the usual complaints that people include - the lack of instruction on instruction, the lack of a required management class, or any number of things. The reality is, I've recently realized that there was something that could have really helped me significantly, both at MPOW* and at FPOW**.

The class I wish I'd had was Vendor Relations 101. I have no idea how to deal with vendors on a regular basis. Sure, I can have a chat at a conference, but when they're actually trying to show me a product or tell me something, I've got no clue. And then there are the ones who want to know what the process is at MPOW. Well, I have no idea what I can and can't tell vendors - and I'm not sure if this comes from my years as an auditor when I did have to be very careful about who was told what, or if it's reasonable caution, or a combination of both.

Hey, if this was offered as a CE class, as a seminar or as a preconference or session at a conference, I'd be there in a second.

For those who haven't seen them:
*My Place of Work
*Former Place of Work

Monday, November 12, 2007

I am Annoyed Librarian

This is just to make it known that I am Annoyed Librarian. Though I think it would be obvious, you just might wonder why I'm annoyed.

I am annoyed because so many librarians are blind to viewpoints other than their own when it comes to libraries - yes, I believe that libraries are a Good Thing - I did, after all, leave a lucrative career to become one. However, not everyone sees them this way. We have to be willing to step back and view the library the way those who don't see libraries as a naturally good thing do and we must be willing to prove our value to those people. Yes, libraries have to justify our existence to those who think in business terms. Being angry about this does no one any good - instead, we have to learn to do it.

I am annoyed because libraries can be so slow to change, because in almost every library there is an old guard who say "yes, but..." to any new idea, because as a profession we are so in love with committees and discussions that we don't get things accomplished.

I am annoyed because it seems so very difficult for new/young librarians to break into the field - there is now an "old guard" of young librarians who, for whatever reason, seem to make it difficult for newer librarians to be involved. I don't think it's intentional, and I do think it may be a function of profession structure, but I still feel like it's there.

I am annoyed because the profession is represented by a top-heavy organization that is made up of the true old guard, who appear to be are the kings and queens of the "yes, but..." when new ideas are proposed.

I am annoyed because this is a profession with women in the majority - and with that come the things that I dislike about groups of women. Not all women in any group do this, but there can be a cliqueishness to groups of women that reminds me of high school - I'd like to think that as adult professionals, we would have grown out of this, but I know that not everyone has.

Ok, maybe I'm not THE Annoyed Librarian. But I am a librarian, and I am annoyed by things in the profession. I am also at times annoyed by people in the profession - whether the old guard or the "twopointopians" (as the real AL calls us) who don't see the forest for the trees - or the trees for the forest.

My point? We're all Annoyed Librarians in some way, shape or form. The AL does not have a monopoly on annoyance. What s/he does have? A voice that's gotten out there, however anonymous it may be. A turn of phrase that makes people talk - no matter how annoyed we may be by the saying of these things.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Putting Evidence Based Practice to work

At Internet Librarian this week - these are my notes from the first half of the Evidence Based Practice session - really enjoyed this one!

Putting evidence based practice to work

Amanda Hollister

Frank Cervone

Usability testing - Northwestern U

Problem of website design

Not large number of people trained in Human Computer Interaction

Have to learn in order to understand

People tend to feel like sites are" done" instead of constantly adjusting and reevaluating

Constantly evolving websites - to meet customer needs

Andrew Booth - U of Sheffield

quote from article.

heirarchy in how looked at

Data provides evidence, not anecdotal stories or common sense
Evaluation constantly.

How differentrom what happens? people making decisions now obn beliefs, not data

Evaluation after the fact is too late.

Comes from medicine - lots of writing from med school libraries

Study, compare results and compare results.

Evidence based practice process reminds me of the info life cycle - never ends - not daily, but consistently


Setting - where being used? What context

Population - who are users

, Intervention, - what is being done to/for?

COmparison, - what are alternatives?

Evaluation - what was result?

Needs to be much more rigorous

Look at the current evidence - focus groups & surveys are lower level. How could test at higher level?

Assume that title search is correct - example - but also looked at # and details of failed searches

Required reading list -

Req training in usabiltiy

participate in whole process

these three things teach people whole process.

Then, go back and compare new stats to old stats - have the changes worked. These stats are hard data, quantitative, not qualitative.

Also helps with justifying new tools or processes.

Lets prove that we are making things better - get better comments and feedback.

Still probs: jargon, users understand why would use library website.

Anecdotal evidence can give idea of what might need to be reviewed, but is not necessarily representative.

Ok, laptop dying now - switching to paper for notes

Will share reading list - assistant u librarian for infor technology - Frank Cervone.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Heading West

Despite knowing that today (well, tomorrow) was coming for what seemed to be a long time, it feels like it's suddenly arrived.

The movers have come and gone, the Youngstown apartment is mostly empty, and tomorrow morning I head west.

I've seen several things recently I want to comment on, but all of them will have to wait for now, unless I get time in a hotel room following a day's drive.

I am probably going to take a couple of days longer than I technically have to to make this drive. I haven't done a long drive since last summer, this is a route I've never taken before (which does make me a little - not nervous, but extra aware) and I kind of want to be able to stop if I see something that I want to stop and look at. I'm basically driving cross country. I might as well enjoy it!

Friday, June 1, 2007

The status quo

Some days I love Library Pariah. Today being one such day:

Librarian Foolishly Exceeds Expectations

" entire generation of students would be forever lost to the almighty reference tally sheet."

Though perhaps not quite as much as I love the Smart Bitches and the cover snark.

Why Twitter?

Twitter is one of my new favorite web tools. I admit that when I first heard about it, it seemed voyeuristic and perhaps a little egotistical - why would people care what I was doing all day and why should I care what others do?

Then there was today, when I started with a comment about it being my last day at my current job. There were the good luck comments and supportive things, and then the day pretty much went, with the usual chatter in the LSW Meebo room.

Between 4:00 and 4:15 this afternoon, I went from "La la, this isn't so bad" to the basket case phase. I managed to close out of the Meebo room, and sent a tweet that said " lost it. Almost made it through the day. Didn;t."

You know what, I had lots of fast responses - and I appreciate every one of them, even the person who thought they'd said something in the room that offended me (and honestly, I don't even know what the conversation was about when I left) and sent an apology as a direct message.

These are responses that I wouldn't have been able to get from my in-person friends today: they were either coworkers (and so almost as much of a basket case as I was) or at work elsewhere and not really available. That's what I like about Twitter. It's fast, and it fits my Child
of the 80's instant gratification mindset some days. Today was just one of those days. Thanks folks.

Now I have to figure out how to make it work for work - without the obvious networking with other librarians thing, but actual work with patrons stuff. But that can percolate in my brain for a while. Because I have a month to get moved and settled before I start the new job.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Work != Life

I was reading a recent post over at A Wandering Eyre (along with some of the responses to it at a couple of other places), and I realized something that is sounding odd in my head well before I type it, but I'm going to try to make it come out right.

I think the "My work is not my life" realization is something that everyone comes to in time. For some, it comes very early - to the point that there are people who only show up for a paycheck. They have jobs but not necessarily careers and they are fine with that. And as long as they're happy with the way their life is, I've got no business saying anything's wrong with them.

Then there are those who learn it later. It took me a while to learn it - for me, it was in my previous career, one where, by the time I left it I was incredibly miserable - I don't think it's possible for me to really explain how miserable I was now that I'm almost five years removed from it. I brought that knowledge into librarianship with me, and it's one of the things I've tried to make a point of remembering - and to be not at work when I'm not there.

When I leave the office, I try to leave the politics and such behind me at my desk. Does it always work? No. Am I still a librarian on the weekends or on vacation or what not? Yes, I am. And I still get joy out of what I do and I love it. But if I don't take the time for myself, then I'll push myself into that state when I am miserable again - and I don't want to be there again, because it would mean that I'd lost the joy of librarianship.

So for the other young librarians out there - remember your passions, your loves, beyond librarianship. You can't live and breathe your career 24/7 and expect to keep loving it. Go do whatever else you need to do to make yourself walk back in the door focused and content. These are the things we have to do to stay sane.

Edited to add: I realized later that final paragraph may seem condescending, depending on how you read it (first time I read through it was fine, then later I got the other reading). I am still in a lot of ways a young librarian - and I am definitely a new librarian. And the things I can say can only come from my experiences and background. I want the ones with passion to not end up burned out, and anything that they can do to help themselves not do so is fine by me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thoughts on librarianship from the dentist's chair

So, I had this thought while in the dentist chair today (I was in that chair for almost three hours, so there was plenty of time to think) - ended up talking to the dentist about it. It was a little odd. Dentists and librarians face similar challenges, at least in an academic library.

Both academic librarians and dentists are seen by some as the last resort. Like I put off going to the dentist until I couldn't anymore, students put off seeing the librarian, like what they have to do is going to be as painful as a root canal or having a crown replaced with the attendant decay below the old crown.

People avoid the dentist. Then they go when it's absolutely necessary and expect miracles - they expect just what Uncle JimBob got when he had fantastic results, quite possibly because he didn't wait five years between visits. At the same time (again, much like my dental visit today), the problem may be much more involved once he or she is actually into the work. And it may be much less involved, but that's not typical.

We were also talking about how he feels that dentists have made their jobs look too easy - they've hidden the challenges, and people expect perfect results every time. Haven't we done the same thing? We make an interface that looks simple. That enables the basic user to find what they need most of the time and hides the challenges of searching. This is great for the most common denominator - because most people will find what they need. But what happens when someone is not the most common denominator, when their search is more involved and their topic more complex? Because we've made search seem simple, they expect the results for a search on a specific horse disease that affected animals during the Boer War that are as easy as those they might get with a search for scholarly articles about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which, by the way, are fairly easy to find). It frustrates our users - and leaves us as a last resort.

This post grew out of a visit to the dentist, and I feel there's more to say, but I'm not sure how to say it at the moment. So I'll let this be for now.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Preexising thoughts

There are bunches of librarians blogging out there, so why start another one? Of course, because this one is mine - and everyone, in our own narcissistic way, thinks our thoughts are at least as important as those of anyone else.

I am currently an academic librarian, and I'm starting a new job this summer, also as an academic librarian but in a whole new part of the country for me. I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I want out of this new job - I know that they have expectations for what I am bringing as well, but thinking about what I want will help me focus as I begin - and since this one has research and publication requirements, I need to be thinking those thoughts.

Here's the deal: I love being a librarian. I love helping students, I love teaching classes, I love working with new technologies. There are aspects of the profession I dislike - primarily it's the bitterness that comes across when some groups of librarians get together. I'm on a bunch of e-mail lists, and I think the combined griping that can occur has really dragged me down and brought me to a somewhat negative mindset about how things aren't going to change.

What I want is to keep being excited about being a librarian. To be excited about the new tools that open possibilities - like Twitter and tagging and all the new fun stuff that I feel like I'm playing with - but that does have enormous possibilities for reconnecting with our users. I want the excitement to stay with me. I want to keep loving what I do - instead of being distracted by naysayers. I want libraries and librarians to say that "yes, we can do that. In fact, we can do it better and cheaper" instead of "well...maybe we could do that, what if we tweaked it some so it looks (and works) just like what we've got over here...".

I want to play. I want the joy of my profession, not just the daily grind. I don't want to just show up for the sake of getting a paycheck - I want to contribute and be involved. Sitting on my duff letting changes catch up to me only when they happen to flow past is no good. I want to seek and find the fun stuff and try to figure out what the next big thing is.

Let's go to work.