December 21, 2010

Kickass Librarian

I post with no comments other than (1) This is absolutely and smashingly wonderful, and (2) I want to learn the Song of the Cobra.

December 20, 2010

Expressing My Value

So, I won a contest that I didn't realize was really a contest! Neat. SLA has been running an "Express Your Value" contest, encouraging members to submit videos (or other media type) to share what we do and why it matters - in other words, to express our own value. I had a lot of fun with my video, and was pleasantly surprised when I won the contest!  Here's what I said:

Thank you, SLA, for the opportunity to channel my inner TV ad-man!

December 16, 2010

Speaking to Truth

Kathy Dempsey over at "The M Word - Marketing Libraries" has written an excellent post titled "Be Clear About the Value You Deliver!" that every librarian needs to read.

Go, now; I'll wait.

Why do you need to read it? Because it addresses the never-ending question of relevance in the Internet age in a better way than I ever could:
"So next time someone asks why you still matter in the age of the internet, answer thoughtfully, using words that will make sense to whomever you're talking with. Otherwise, people will just keep asking the question and never understanding why libraries and librarians are still essential."
Well said, Kathy. Takeaway question: Do you know your applicable org-speak? On pondering, I'm not sure I do. I'll be pondering more, you can be sure.

November 12, 2010

The Little Librarian... really?

"Be a Real Librarian. Just Add Books!" I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this new toy. I'm all for encouraging reading, but... Hm. As someone who's been obsessively organizing her books at home for years (decades?) this would probably have appealed to me as a kid, but then again, so would a copy of the AACR. Nowadays, I'm not so sure; it doesn't quite represent the modern library anymore. But does that matter, really? This toy is going to appeal to any kid like I was, with a love of books and of categorization, who likes to keep track of who has the books.

(Then again, a gift subscription to LibraryThing would serve the same purpose, I think!)

Another Car Like a Librarian

...Or something like that. With shades of the 2002 Honda ad, the new 2011 Volvo S60 is being compared to a "naughty librarian". At least they acknowledge it's a stereotype:
"You know the sexist stereotype. A supposedly shy, near-sighted librarian, who when given the chance, lets down the hair, doffs the glasses, and becomes the out-of-character 'naughty' librarian.  So by adding more performance, more athletic driving dynamics and less-boxy styling to its “'Naughtiest Volvo Ever' new-for-2011 S60, Volvo wants to throw off its stereotypically staid image and help accelerate the brand’s struggling sales."

Naughty, sexy, car, librarian - yeah, ok. Based on past on-the-spot polls at conferences, most folks don't mind being compared to a great car. Do you?

November 10, 2010

Don't forget to play!

National Gaming Day @ your library. Join the thousands of folks across the nation (and around the world!) who'll play games on Saturday.

You know you want to!

October 4, 2010

I Has a Drupal Happy

Today, after a longer time than anyone would have ever thought necessary, I finally took our site upgrade to Drupal 6 live. (Just in time to start planning for 7...) It was an illuminating process, not least of which was learning what password exactly was set for the mysqladmin account (it wasn't any of the ones I thought, and I lost A MONTH over this little wee tiny datum. I can't tell you how gosh-darned smart that made me feel.) Thanks to the patience and digging of my Drupal guru, we got everything migrated and updated and transferred over. Then I - through the power of CSS! - fixed the dramatically-changed template back to the basic layout my staff knows and loves. (That made me feel a bit smarter.)

I am thoroughly pleased with the new functionality in the D6 versions of my modules; I swapped editors to FCKeditor and love it; I'm no longer quite as trepidacious about Views; my image galleries now look nice and streamlined; and my users can now even upload files to the server! (Doesn't mean they will, but at least now they can.)

I am a happy, happy person. (Cary, you rock.)

September 3, 2010

Why is it always "versus"?

As I've mentioned once or twice before, I've got definite warm fuzzies for people who work in libraries and do library tasks and duties but who may not have an MLS (hereafter known as "paraprofessionals"). Andy Woodworth strikes again with his posting "The Master's Degree Misperception" - his post itself was intriguing in discussing the worth, or lack thereof, of the degree in relation to the tasks done in most (public and academic) libraries. The reference desk got its own particular commentary... and I recall the drama stories I heard both from my mother (at a community college) and a close friend (at a public law library) relating to who manned the desk when and what questions they were allowed to answer, and what they were not. (I never did understand that.)

My own thoughts are that, while I didn't learn anything practical in grad school that I could apply to my jobs (my first professional presentation was titled "Things I Didn't Learn in Library School"), I did learn quite a lot philosophically, and that helped me with the larger questions and exposed me to issues I hadn't been before. When they came up again (as they always do), at least I had a clue of what they were and where to go to get help. But, in day to day life? My MLIS doesn't do a thing for my job skillset, security, or capabilities, nor is it a factor in how my coworkers see me.

What's been reeeeeally interesting is the comments and Twitter discussion. Some folks are gettin' downright feisty about the whole thing. It's been fascinating to watch the flames. I'll be watching this one for a bit.

Update September 9th: The conversation continues to evolve.  Emily's responses are well stated, and Kendra had a very good point; I'd rather be out with my patrons (albeit not at a reference desk in my case) than tucked away somewhere, unseen and unknown about.

How do you feel about it?

Over on Will Unwound, Will Manley is hosting a series of guest posters. The first one was Andy Woodworth, of Agnostic, Maybe, and his post is titled "How do you feel about the Librarian Image?"  It was an interesting post about how his attitude towards the inevitable stereotype of librarians has changed - originally irksome, he has "learned to stop fretting and embrace the stereotypes." Here's to intelligent and passionate!

Just as interesting to me were the multitudinous comments, both accepting and dismissive of the stereotypes, including plenty of examples and stories. One subtheme I learned about - being unaware myself as I've pretty much only worked solo - is the intra-library stereotype situation. Much was made of the sexual stereotype as well, and we even delved into pop culture via Project Runway.

As I noted in my own comment, I can only hope that the view changes in the next 25 years more than it has in the last 50... and it's up to us to help those changes along!

August 31, 2010

Bookworms, Indeed

On August 9th, Jason Smalley mused in a blog posting for American Libraries on the importance (or lack thereof) of the name of the job. In "A Bookworm by Any Other Name," he points out that it isn't always so easy to answer the seemingly-innocuous question, "So, what do you do?"  As another librarian who doesn't work at a library, and as a librarian whose job title doesn't include "the L-word", Jason has some really interesting thoughts on the matter.

When I stopped to think about it, some of what he said rings true for me as well - I almost never get away with saying simply "I'm a librarian," because I always then have to go into what kind of librarian I am, and no, I don't work at the public library, and yes, there are librarians who don't work at public librarians, and yes, there are librarians who spend their entire day working on computers, and....

I must say, however, that I disagree with Jason's statement that he's not a librarian, because he doesn't park his car at a library and "there aren’t thousands of me doing the same job that I do." I think this is just another case where we can stand up and say loudly, "Yes, I am a librarian!"  Yes, many of us do things you don't expect, and there are a whole lot of us who work in places that aren't labeled "library", and there may only be a few who do what we do individually (there certainly aren't a lot of folks doing the same job that I do!).

I hope Jason is able to reconsider his statement of belief. What about you? Do you believe you're a librarian, even if you don't work in a traditional library, or don't have a job title that states such?

August 26, 2010

Random Librarian Humor

* There is nothing we can't do, including hypnotizing lobsters.

* Bulgari's fall eyewear collection is "fit for a librarian with its tortoiseshell rims and blocky design." Sigh. At least they're "luxurious and stylish" this time around.

* "85 Reasons to be Thankful for Librarians."  Check #15.

* Visit "Three Turtles and their Pet Librarian" on those days when you really can't figure out what to read next. The turtles will tell you.

* Once again it's time to Pimp Your Bookcart!

* Last but not least, I can't believe I didn't post these here! Of course by now you've probably seen them (or at least heard of them), but hey, I can't not put 'em up here. Here are Old Spice and New Spice... now look at them. Now back at me. Now back to them. You're on a cart!

July 30, 2010

Does your job title get it done?

Thanks to Meryl and Guy over on LinkedIn, I recently read a blog posting at the Harvard Business Review by Bill Taylor titled "Does Your Job Title Get the Job Done?" It got me thinking a lot about the ever-present discussions about job titles - how what we are called impacts so many things. It's a light-sounding article ("Lodestar of the 21st century"? Really?) with a serious focus in the middle.

There are two lines in the article that really got my attention: "Their work truly mattered to them, and how their work got described to the world mattered as well," and "People do their best work when they do work they love — which means it's work that somehow connects with their unique skills, talents, and passions."

Isn't that us? No matter what we're called - and every year the list gets longer - we tend to be in this profession with a passion; because we love what we do. (Sadly, it's not to get rich.) While, yes, I'm one of those people who feels strongly that "the L word" shouldn't be discarded, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter what we're called as long as we get that job done.

(PS: I am now starting a campaign to get my formal title changed to what everyone here calls me, which is Information Goddess.)

Currently 85° and 63%Rh. Yes, it's monsoon season!

July 28, 2010

UNT LISSA: The Interview

I was pleased to be interviewed recently by Angel Durr of the University of North Texas Library & Information Sciences Student Association - and she posted the interview today. Thank you for the opportunity, Angel, and for the kind words!

July 22, 2010

Effing Does Quiet

So, there's this guy, you know? the.effing.librarian. Irreverent, humorous, librarianish, all that stuff. He's also written a really interesting post on the history of "The Quiet Librarian," where he started out looking for the earliest published reference he could find on the shushing thing, and found a whole treasure-trove of information about the early days of librarianship and the never-ending battle with image. In answer to the questions posed at the end of the post, I agree, it's like a pendulum... but my favorite line is the last one:

"Maybe it keeps us interesting. It keeps everyone guessing about us. If so, that's kinda cool."


July 13, 2010

Not what you think!

Via the amusingly-named blog "How may I shush you today?" via-via @jokrausdu, I'm pleased to bring you a great public service announcement at Ignite Lansing from two staff members of the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, MI:

July 7, 2010

LSW does Code Monkey

I know, I'm late, but hey! Here we are! (Yes, that's me in the coffee scene, and my son's monkey in the coffee and job scene.) The LSW? Totally amazing group of folks.

Bow down to the LSW! Also bow down to Jonathan Coulton, because really, you just should.

Time for a New Design

I redesigned the blog site using some of the new Blogger templating tools and a CC-licensed Flickr photo from Ken Lund (who takes great photos of the desert). I like it a lot; for anyone who actually visits the blog to read it (rather than via RSS), I hope you like it too.

ObWeatherWoot: Monsoon's coming!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

June 30, 2010

I Went to New Orleans and All I Got Was...

...a great SLA Annual Conference. Plus a helluva lot of humidity...

Now that it's been two weeks since the conference ended, it's time for a recap! Well, not a recap per se - I won't put you through every session I went to - but I will hit some highlights. It was a long conference this year - four and a half very full days - but it was good!

Saturday: Board Meeting #1! This was followed by the 2011 annual conference planner's meeting. 2011 is shaping up nicely! I'm pleased to be working with the divisions that PAM is cosponsoring with, and I'm excited about our sessions. I'm also extremely pleased that the Arizona Chapter is going to be participating in a session next year, with other Western State chapters. We're working out the details now.

Kudos to Khue D for the PAM Early Bird Dinner at Liborio's Cuban Restaurant! It was definitely a leisurely event, but the crowd had fun and the mojitos were amazing.

Early mornings ho - 7:30 meetings almost every day, bleah! The first one was Sunday with the Leadership Development Institute. (I have been developed!) Discussions about the direction of SLA, the upcoming conference, and other activities (Alignment Toolkit, anyone?) were held. More to come at January's Leadership Summit, I'm sure.

Sunday also brought Board Meeting #2 and the interesting opening session, with Mary Matalin and James Carville - they're entertaining speakers but I got the impression they didn't quite have a good sense of their audience. I tell you, though, I could listen to Carville reading a cereal box with that accent and enjoy it...

Monday was full of business meetings, roundtables, the exhibit hall, and a lively book group discussion while the heavens poured buckets and buckets of water on New Orleans. After dashing through the dwindling raindrops we enjoyed the PAM Open House. I missed four other things I wanted to go to - the whole conference sorted out schedule-wise quite well except for Monday at 5:30, when five things collided. One of those things - that I missed - was the West Coast Chapter Reception; I'm proud to say that the Arizona Chapter will be involved with it next year (after we sort out a bit of a name change)!

Tuesday... more business meetings, a co-moderated session on Data Curation, prep with my co-presenter for our session the next day, and a lovely book signing event during the French Quarter networking reception. The ladies in the walking table dresses were fun! And thanks so much to everyone who bought a book and had it signed. I hope you enjoy it!

The big deal Tuesday night was, of course, the IT/PAM/LMD Dance Party - a Masquerade! The turnout was great, the masks in use were even greater, and we closed it down, once more having to shoo folks out at midnight.This is a great event and I highly recommend that everyone just plans on putting it on your schedule!

Wednesday brought the last of the board meetings and a definite decrease in energy - until the adrenaline kicked in for my session "Embed Yourself: The Librarian is IN!" with Jake Carlson of Purdue. We had a good time and gave, if I may say so, a great session - we ran over our time slot with the Q&A session, and we've had a lot of post-conference interest in it as well. This was followed by the jam-packed Astronomy Roundtable - always one of my favorites - and then the closing session with Nicholas Carr. I was intrigued but too tired to argue at this point!

The Kentucky chapter was kind enough to include me in their post-conference celebratory dinner (these people know how to have a good time at a conference, I tell you what) but I pooped out before the Bourbon Street crawl. It was an exhausting week but really good in a lot of ways, and I'm excited to be working on the 2011 conference planning. I'm also continuing to plot library world domination.... mua-hahahaha!

May 26, 2010

It's not dead yet...

For everyone who keeps saying to me "But I thought that stupid stereotype was dead already!" - no, it's not...

When: May 21 and 23, 2010
Who: Marie at Library Garden and Kathy at The M Word0
What: "Librarian Stereotypes, Alive & Well, Alas." New Jersey's having a hard enough time of it... fooey to Brad Parks! (This post, and others like it, will show him how "unexcitable" Jersey librarians are, heh.) Followed up with "The Stereotypes Do Live On" - with pictures and excellent suggestions from Kathy on response tactics.

So, then, why do people keep working in libraries? The Librarian in Black wondered that, and asked, and got answers... and I love 'em.  Of the top five results, I agree with four of them! (My top one would be "Enjoy the work itself", to be honest.) What are your reasons?

May 20, 2010

Do you care?

From the LSW room on Friendfeed: "Do you care about stereotypes about librarians and images of librarians in popular media? Or not? Discuss." There's some excellent comments in here, from both sides of the question - and most of them continue to reinforce the thought that the dratted stereotype is far from dead.

May 11, 2010

But not professional librarian sex...

In case you haven't already seen it: Yes, amazingly enough, librarians (being people just like, well, people) have... sexual thoughts. Read sexy publications. And - gasp! - even have sex! Of course, just asking about this could get you fired back in 1992... just ask Will Manley.

And now for something completely different!

Are we professionals, or not? Ryan Deschamps poses the question, and (amongst many others) 3 Geeks and a Law Blog chimes in. I'm torn - on the one hand I feel I've worked very hard to get where I am, to be able to call myself a librarian... on the other hand there are days when I feel a trained monkey could do my job. (But not with the same élan!) Make sure to read through the comments as well... and then read David Rothman's rebuttal, too.

On reading through Ryan's ten points, I have to admit - they're very good points. #8 (“Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work") got me - my very first presentation after library school was titled "What I Didn't Learn in Library School." And heaven knows #9 ("Competing Professions Are Offering Different Paradigms to Achieve the Same Goals") impacts me daily... am I a geek in librarian clothes, or a librarian in geek clothes? (Today I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Which category is that?)

Perhaps I'll just stick, for today at least, with "yes."

April 8, 2010

Celebs Go Librarian!

Short but sweet:
Also, keep your fingers crossed for David Hoskins, a librarian competing on Jeopardy this week!

In the "not so much fun as cause for giant worry" column, don't forget that "When one library is in trouble, all libraries are in trouble." Do you have something to share with these grassroots organizers? Use the tag "savelibraries" in your content.

March 25, 2010

New Info on Rex Libris: The Movie

From James Turner, creator of Rex Libris:

"Mark Burton (Madagascar) turned in a screenplay to Warners for Rex, but they weren't happy with the result. He's out. The search is on for a new screenwriter.

I had a conference call with the producers (Mosaic; they produced Batman Begins, Dark Knight, etc) about direction and possible ideas. No idea how that went. Everyone in Hollywood says they love you, and when everyone says it..."

Keep your fingers crossed!

March 24, 2010

It's Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - who is Ada, you might ask? Well, she's the first computer programmer. Today is also an "international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science" - and thousands of folks are doing that over on the Finding Ada site.

Pondering all the women in tech and science I know, who have encouraged or inspired me, is an interesting exercise. As I said last year, choosing just one would be problematic, so what I decided to do is list some of them, with a brief indication of why they inspire me.
  • Jan R., then a Captain in an area I probably shouldn't talk about, for encouraging me to go for the Air Force scholarship when I was a junior in high school;
  • My mother, for never letting me be afraid of math or science, and for insisting I could do anything I set my mind to. She lived up to that, too, becoming a systems administrator for her library when she was in her 50s. (*That* for anyone who thinks only the young can learn tech skills!)
  • Sue H., a systems administrator at MPOW, who deals with hundreds of user accounts and cranky people complaining about access with nary a scream;
  • Celine d'O., a laser systems/adaptive optics engineer and dear friend; and
  • LeEllen P., a thermal systems engineer, for showing me you can embrace both sides of your brain and still do it right.
There are many more I could mention but I think I'll save them for next year's post. Thank you to every single one of you!

February 25, 2010

This Book is Overdue!

I'm assuming by now you've probably heard of Marilyn Johnson's "This Book is Overdue!" - a new book about librarians, data overload, and why we are the saviors of the future. I've had several tabs open all week to share about this great new book, but intelligent commentary just ain't happening right now - so here's the links and a promise of more to come!

* Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" interviewed Johnson on February 14th - "Marilyn Johnson is the author of 'This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All.' She talks with Jim Fleming about how librarians are emerging as heroes of the digital age because of their love for the written word, free speech and open access."

* "Here's to librarians, saviors of the data-weary." Kim Ode at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune gives a really nice review of the book. I also quite like her line "Yahoo doesn't light up with a smile when we log in, but a familiar librarian will." Amen!

* Jed Lipinski over at Salon.Com also interviewed Johnson, in "Hot for Librarian" on February 21st.  "[T]here's bad news for those of you with a shushing fetish; as Marilyn Johnson explains [...] the uptight librarian is a species that's rapidly approaching extinction."

 * And Tommy Wayne Kramer in Ukiah, CA needs to read Johnson's book; he recently stated in an opinion piece for The Ukiah Daily Journal that we should "save the county, close the libraries." For someone who is clearly proud that he hasn't set foot in a library in ages ("But it's easy to go years and years without visiting a library - I haven't had a library card in a quarter century and can't recall a single time I wished I had one.") he certainly has some strong opinions about what should be done with them. I'm astonished at the negativity in this opinion piece, and depressed that a series of book stores provided support for the piece.

My copy of the book is half-read, and I'm sure I'll have my own review and opinion once I'm done. In the meantime, check it out, rejoice in the spirit in which it's offered, and keep fighting the good fight!

February 10, 2010

The Library Routes Project, or, How I Became a Librarian

Ned Potter, Digitisation Coordinator at the University of Leeds (bless his patient self), has sent me a few emails regarding his Library Routes project and his CILIP presentations on "Why are we still defined by our buildings?" (interesting concept, that) and "Realizing your potential: rising above the stereotypes". I'm way overdue in recognizing Ned's papers but I really want to take a moment to talk about Library Routes.

I like the idea behind the Library Routes project - to "bring together the thoughts and experiences of Information Professionals on how they got where they are today, and why they chose to work in libraries at all" and, of course, you know my thoughts on stereotypes and how they affect us even today. Reading the perspectives from our UK brethren was really interesting - yet all the stories had the same feel to them as others I've heard. Some folks went right into librarianship (under various names), others took the roundabout way through some more, some less exciting career paths - but they all feel now as if they're in the right place doing the right thing.

My own route to librarianship has its roots in my childhood, and follows a few roundabout ways of its own. My mother was a librarian - everywhere we went in the military she ended up working in a library, so I was surrounded by that all my life. I didn't set out to be a librarian, though - my first job was as an engineering aide (blueprints and concrete testing kind of stuff) and it wasn't until well into my second job that I started getting involved in information management. One thing led to another, I ended up in charge of all the documentation for the project, and then my questing path led me down the street to the University of Arizona's School of Information Resources and Library Science. I met my most excellent advisor and that, as they say, was that. Grad school was a blast and I've never looked back - I truly feel I'm in the right place doing the right thing, and I love my job as a systems librarian. It's definitely not much like the job my mother did in a lot of ways, but at the base it's the same - getting folks the information they need.

Take a moment, take a read, and join in the discussion at the Library Routes wiki. Thanks muchly, Ned!

January 21, 2010

What They Said

It's not quite a random collection of stuff today; rather, posts relating to the future (both things to do, and things to dream of):

* AndyW's posting "5 Universal Truths That All Librarians Can Agree Upon Right Now" is, IMHO, danged true.

* Blake's collection of "10 Librarian Blogs to Read" is always good, and I always find one or two more to add to my reader. Check it out, I bet you'll find a few too!

* LJ has a series of video interviews with Marilyn Johnson, author of "This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All," currently on my to-read list. (hi Sally!)

* For the first time in 1600 years, there is again a Librarian of Alexandria. (hi to Mandy, who's lucky enough to work there!)

* I am totally going to be playing around with concept maps.

What will you add in the new year?

January 5, 2010

Holy Apparition! Also: Say "Thank You"

Briefly, some bits & pieces of interest:

* Jonathan at Zen College Life gives us 85 Reasons to be Thankful for Librarians. There are some good ones in here! My faves would have to be #s 15, 29, 53 and - very important - 71.

* Watch the first-ever Batman episode to feature Batgirl! I love her casual use of library furniture for mayhem.