National Library Workers Day

15 Apr

NLWD LogoToday — April 15, 2014 — is National Library Workers Day, a day “for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.” Established by the ALA-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) in 2003, it’s now celebrated on the Tuesday of National Library Week.

It’s never the wrong time to be thinking about advocacy for libraries and libraryfolk, and that’s something that transcends the boundaries of professional organizations. For the SLA folks, I especially recommend checking out those portions of the Galaxy of Stars dedicated to works from special, academic, and government libraries.

And we should all take some time to think about what we’ve done lately to stand up for the folks who help make our organizations run. Especially those whose positions are, all too often, the most vulnerable.

I’m a candidate for President-Elect of SLA

10 Apr

sla-logoIt is with a combination of great excitement and great humility that I announce that I will be one of the candidates for the position of President-Elect of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).

I am deeply honored to be considered for this role, and to stand among such an excellent slate of candidates for the SLA Board. I look forward to spending the coming weeks and months communicating with SLA members from around the world about their aspirations for the organization, and for themselves.

The full candidate list can be found here. And you can expect me to be talking about this more soon.

There’s still time to register for Not the CIA: Competitive Intelligence and Analysis in the Real World

6 Mar

Folks, there’s still time to sign up for Not the CIA: Competitive Intelligence and Analysis in the Real World, the spring conference of the Upstate New York Chapter of SLA.

Not only will the conference be covering great material that’s rarely emphasized in a library context, but it’ll also be held at the Corning Museum of Glass, which is pretty damned spectacular.

Details and the link to the registration form can be found here. Hope to see you there!

A terrible keynote, but a very solid DrupalCamp

6 Dec

On Monday, I attended DrupalCamp here at Cornell. Overall, the event was great. Though I was hindered by a nasty cold that had set in over Thanksgiving break, the sessions I attended were excellent: one talked about web accessibility, providing both historical and legal context and then providing practical advice for using the tools of responsive web design to create accessible sites. Another talked about preparing for Drupal, and again gave an excellent overview of what was involved in the creation of a Drupal site before digging into the pragmatic needs of such an endeavor. Wonderful stuff, and just the sort of thing that got me to sign up in the first place.

The keynote, sadly, was another story. For whatever reason, the organizers gave over this important task to a representative of one of the vendors, and it was disastrous. I documented this on Twitter:

(NOTE: I am not sure why WordPress won’t let me embed the Storify. I’ve tried several times and no longer care.)

Like I said, the rest of the event was excellent. In fact, I’m willing to assume at this point that the speaker — or more likely, his employer Acquia — promised the organizers a very different speech. But the “you need to think like a business!” rhetoric we got was wholly inappropriate; whether or not you think that mindset has any validity*, it’s certainly not new thinking. We’ve been living it for as long as I’ve been working in academic libraries, and playing buzzword bingo*** with us isn’t inspirational, it’s insulting.

I went to DrupalCamp to get a bit more insight into using Drupal; I’m not a developer, but I wanted a better context for working with the developers on several upcoming projects. I got that, and would attend similar events in the future. I also got a good story out of it, so all in all I’d call the event a success.


* Note: I don’t. It’s better served in another post, but the short version is that academic institutions aren’t businesses, and the principles that currently drive business in Western society don’t even produce successful businesses, so we can’t expect them to produce a viable academy. Not to say there aren’t things that can be learned from other sectors and spheres, but we can’t expect success by pretending that they aren’t other sectors and spheres.**

** Actually, that might be my whole post on the topic. We’ll see.

*** I almost shouted “BINGO!” when he put up the “THE FUTURE IS AGILE!” slide, though to be fair that might be the free square in the middle of the board.

There’s still time to register for The Librarian’s Toolbox: Reopened!

28 Oct

Just what it says in the title, folks: registration is still open for The Librarian’s Toolbox: Reopened!, the fall conference of the Upstate New York Chapter of SLA.  We’ve got some excellent presentations and posters lined up, and I think it’s going to be a helluva good day for libraryfolk who attend. It’s also being held at the Craftsman Inn in Fayettesville, NY, just outside of Syracuse, and that’s a great venue.

Details and the link to the registration form can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Why I’m not ashamed to be a mod at Librarian Shaming

25 Oct

[Spoiler warning: it's because I think it's awesome.]

I’ve been modding for Librarian Shaming since it made the jump from a most excellent post on the Dracut Library blog to tumblr (arguably its natural environment). The site’s caught some flack from the start, but that seems to have ramped up in the last week or so. Whether that means that the numbers of followers and posts have reached some kind of critical mass or that we’ve just hit the backlash portion of the internet meme lifecycle, who can say.

I won’t endeavor to do some kind of point-by-point rebuttal of the critiques I’ve seen, both because I’d rather talk about what I like than get defensive*, and because I’m sure I’ve missed some.  But I will start out by speaking to the notion that Librarian Shaming is somehow bad for the image of the profession.

Here’s the thing: I love how many followers we have, and I love that we’ve gotten press. But honestly? This is a moderately popular blog that’s been getting the meme-flash-in-the-pan treatment for a few weeks. Most of the attention it’s received is from within the library world, even after getting picked up by the web press. We’re just not that influential, and that’s OK. 

I’ve heard a number of folks worry about how some of the more negative submissions could adversely affect patron support for libraries, and I hate the idea of making any library worker’s life anywhere any harder. But the thing is, any “supporter” who would hold something some anonymous library worker said against you never supported you in the first place. And I certainly don’t think that any public collective action by libraryfolk should be held to the standard of, “But what might our most wingnutty hypothetical patron think of this?” Reasonable people will recognize the site for what it is: a place to vent.

Which is not to say that I, personally, have been down with every submission. Like anyone else, there have been submissions I’ve found challenging or upsetting or painfully wrongheaded. This is a good thing. I really dig that we’ve sparked some conversations about patron interaction, dealing with works we find reprehensible, and pay. Do I think these discussions will necessarily change the world? No.** But it’s really good to see them happen, and see them expand beyond tumblr.

That brings me to the main reason I think Librarian Shaming can be good for the profession: it lets people vent their challenging and upsetting and potentially wrongheaded reactions to the work, the stuff they struggle with or do on the sly, and do so anonymously.  One critique I’ve seen a  few times goes along the lines of, “If I said this stuff, I’d get fired!”

That’s the point. 

I think Librarian Shaming has gotten the number of followers and submissions that we have because many libraryfolk haven’t had this kind of outlet before. So many of us have blogs and social media accounts and marketing collateral — often both institutional and personal — to talk about the positive and inspiring parts of our work.*** But we have a fear of publicly copping to the things that frustrate us; and it’s a justified fear, because that can get us into serious, potentially life-altering trouble.

But Librarian Shaming gives an avenue for that kind of emotion, and even lets folks laugh and commiserate about it to the extent that they’re comfortable.  And that’s what I love about working with the blog: the tremendous outpouring of positive, funny, joyful responses that I’ve seen to so many of the posts.

I’m not going to say it’s perfect — even I wonder from time to time if we should change the name, for example — but overall it’s been a really wonderful experience. And one I’m proud to be a part of.

I’m just not sure where it should go on my CV quite yet.


* Yeah, I know the post title comes off as at least a little defensive. But I’m a sucker for parallelism.
** Again, we’re not that influential.
*** Not that I’m saying that we, as a profession, do enough of that. Oh gods, no. But the tools are there.

NYLA: Repositories and Open Access

30 Sep

Last week, I got to go to my first New York Library Association conference, and it was a blast. As I mentioned previously, Amy Buckland and I gave our workshop on digital repository strategies and practice. It’s a workshop I love, because no matter how many times we’ve given it it’s never the same: Amy and I always have new experiences to relate, and the groups we work with are always so different that their questions and insights are new and revelatory each time.

Items of note this go-round: it was the first time that just about everyone in the room seemed to have adequate or nigh-adequate staffing for their repository projects — hallelujah! — and the folks running Digital Commons @Brockport are doing some amazing things.

I also had the honor of sitting on a panel with Amy and Jenica Rogers, talking about Open Access in scholarly publishing. We went with a simple format: we put what we hoped would be a provocative statement up on a slide, and then got a discussion going with the audience about it. There were six statements in total, and if you read Jenica’s blog*, you’ve likely seen them already. I’ll reproduce them here because they got great discussion at NYLA, and great discussion on her blog, and I’m curious to see if we can pull off a great discussion trifecta. Or hat-trick.  Or similar sports metaphor for something happening three times. In any case, here they are:

  1. A child born today will use nothing but open access materials for research in college.

  2. Textbook companies will go out of business as faculty realize they can write, compile, and publish their own customized open course texts.

  3. Future discussions of the quality of library collections will focus not on the collections a library owns, but on the collections a library creates.

  4. The adoption of open access collections will obviate proprietary discovery layers.

  5. It is irresponsible for federally-funded researchers not to make their work available in an open format.

  6. True change in the scholarly publishing system will come from smaller liberal arts colleges, and not the big guys.

Oh, and Amy provided what’s probably the best opening slide ever.

So, discuss in the comments if you have a mind to, or head over to Jenica’s and jump in the discussion there. In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


* And if you don’t, why the hell not?


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