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.