thankful for Thanksgiving

Banana boat tragedy by Robbie V
“Banana boat tragedy” by Robbie V

Next week is a two-day work week, and my schedule for those two days is almost completely wide open. This means, if all goes well, I might actually recover from being away for Charleston last week and being away two days this week for meetings. There are about 50 action items on my list, ranging from a few minutes attention to a few hours attention. And that’s just the “must deal with now” stuff. Forget doing any of my ongoing projects.

The blessing and curse of travel — you get to do cool things, see cool places, and meet cool people, but then you spend several days of work hell trying to atone for the sin of not being there.

recommended reading: The Loris in the Library

No, it’s not a new children’s book. Rather, it’s a wonderful essay by Sarah Glassmeyer that was recently published in VoxPopuLII. Here are a few tasty quotes that I quite enjoyed:

…if an overly cautious, slow moving, non-evolving primate that responds to threats by a poison tongue or hiding and pretending the threat isn’t there didn’t remind you of anything, well then I guess you haven’t spent much time around librarians.

and

…librarians don’t cling to print materials out of some romantic notion of the superiority of books, nor do they make repeated demands for stable, authenticated archives of electronic materials just to make you crazy. When one is tasked with the preservation of information – on behalf not just of those looking for it ten years from now, but also of those looking hundreds if not thousands of years from now – and no one else is really in the information distribution or storage business, it pays to take one’s time and be cautious when determining what container to put that information in, especially when what you’ve been doing for the past 1,000 or so years has been working for you.

and

…with librarians this risk aversion has grown like a cancer and now manifests itself as a fear of failure. This fear has become so ingrained in the culture that innovation and progress are inhibited.

and

As it stands now, librarian participation in a multidisciplinary project is often regarded as more of a hindrance than a help. If librarians don’t change, they will eventually stop being invited to the conversation.

friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia

n. a strong aversion to endless news reporting about friggatriskaidekaphobia on Friday the 13th.

First, some definitions:

triskaidekaphobia n. fear or a phobia concerning the number 13. [source]

friggatriskaidekaphobia n. morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. [source]

friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia n. a strong aversion to endless news reporting about friggatriskaidekaphobia on Friday the 13th. [source]

Yes, I made up that one.

From CBS to the Huffington Post to National Geographic, it seems that everyone in the news reporting world must drag out the same old tired stories about people that have an irrational fear of the number 13 and how Friday the 13th is an even more fearful day than Friday the 7th or Tuesday the 13th. Personally, I wish they’d just shut up about it already.

Friday the 13th is going to occur anywhere from once to three times a year. It’s frequent enough that it’s no longer news, so stop pretending that it is. Tell me something important that’s happening in the world today, rather than wasting my time and yours.

Article first published as Friggatriskaidekaphobiarelatusphobia, Or “Not Another Friday the 13th Story!” on Blogcritics.

CIL 2010: post-conference thoughts

I should present more.

I should present more.

That’s what I have concluded at the end of this conference. There were a few sessions I was jazzed to see, and some others that surprised me, but for the most part, I found myself too often realizing that if I had done a bit of research on my own, I would have known about as much about a session topic as the presenters. Those tended to be the sessions in which I stuck around for the intro and then left, or looked at the slides in advance and decided to go to something else.

While I may be learning about a lot of new tech and ideas outside of the ITI conferences, there is nothing to replace the “lobbycon” aspect of theses events. The connections I have made with other folks who are as equally excited about pushing libraries forward is well worth the price of admission, in my humble opinion. ITI conferences are my equivalent of going to ALA, and very few folks I know talk about going to ALA for the presentations.

I may joke about the “beer track” at conferences, but the reality is that as much as I may advocate for virtual attendance and online communities, they can’t replace the connections (serendipity, perhaps?) of real-time, face-to-face interactions.

CI 2009: Unconferences

Presenters: Steve Lawson, Stephen Francoeur, John Blyberg, and Kathryn Greenhill

KG began by asking the audience to share what questions they have about unconferences while SL took notes on a flip chart. Lots of good questions covering a variety of aspects, including all the questions I have.

Keep in mind: who ever comes are the right people; whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened; whenever it starts is the right time. Also keep in mind the law of two feet. If you are in a situation where you are neither getting nor receiving anything of value, then change that or leave.

Many people indicate that they get a lot out of the space inbetween sessions at traditional conferences, and this is what unconferences try to capture. Libraries can also host general unconferences, such as what Deschamps did in Halifax. It doesn’t have to be just library stuff.

You can’t prepare for every aspect of an unconference. You can prepare the space and request that specific people be there, but in the end, its success is based on the engagement of the participants.

Unconferences are casual. You do need to decide the level of casual, such as how much you want to borrow from traditional conference amenities and structure. Organizational sponsorships should be limited to affiliation and financial support — avoid letting them dictate what will happen.

Keynote sessions can influence the conversations that happen afterwards, so be deliberate about whether or not to have one.

The less you have to deal with money the better, and there are pros and cons to having fees. Keep the threshold low to encourage participation. Every day is a bad day for somebody, so just choose a date and time.

Tip: organize an unconference the day before or after a national conference. Folks are coming and going, and it’s easier to schedule that time in and to get institutional funding.

Make use of social software for promoting and organizing the unconference (wikis are good), and also use it for continuing the conversation.

Free as in beer, free as in kittens, and now free as in someone else is paying. Make use of the resources of the participants institutions.

Swag keeps the connection, and if you’re creative, they’re also useful. SF showed the notebooks that they handed out at LibCampNYC, which were branded versions of something like Moleskine notebooks. Hand out the swag at the beginning, along with notes about how the unconference was going to work and an outline of a schedule (if you have one).

You can build communities through unconferences that then are agile enough to continue the interaction and spontaneous gatherings.

"If you feed them they will come. If you give them liquor they will come the next time." — John Blyberg

carnival of the infosciences #87 – call for submissions

I will be hosting the January 21st Carnival of the Infosciences, so get your submissions ready! Martha Hardy had a solid collection of essays from bibliobloggers, despite the holiday disruptions, which bodes well for the next two weeks. You can submit suggestions via the form or simply tag them carninfo on del.icio.us, but whatever you do, please do it before 6pm on January 20th and follow the submission guidelines.

i readed some buks

I read some professional literature for #23 & #24.

First Have Something To Say by Walt Crawford is a must-read for anyone who wants to write for the library profession. The language is accessible, and Walt lays out the processes in a way that just makes sense. I plan to purchase my own copy soon.

I read Walt’s book in preparation for reading and reviewing Meredith Farkas’ Social Software in Libraries. I won’t be posting the review here or anywhere because (hopefully) it will be published in the first issue of the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship next year. If you have any interest in incorporating social software in your library, I recommend reading Meredith’s book. She asks all (or nearly all) of the questions you need to ask before deciding to implement anything.

For anyone who’s counting, that puts me at 24 books read this year, which is one more than I did last year. w00t!

she’s such a geek

I have managed to read the first four chapters of She’s Such a Geek: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders, but since I’ve had it on my desk for nearly six months, I decided it was time to return it to the library. So far, it has been an interesting read. I recommend it to all my geeky sisters.

random thoughts on this & that

Sorry, not a very descriptive title, is it?

I’m feeling slightly less ambivalent about getting involved with ALA than I did a year ago. Mainly, that is because if the awesome LITA people I meet at Annual in June. Despite that, it still took me until yesterday to remember that I needed to renew my lapsed membership. Whoops.

I ended up deciding to join LITA, and since my professional focus currently resides with the Serials Section of ALCTS, I ended up dropping ACRL. Even so, my membership cost more than $200. For one year. Yeouch. The sad thing is that I’m not sure I’ll have much energy left to get my $200 worth out of it. We’ll see.

This leads me to a question I have been pondering for a bit. I’ve been thinking about my career and where I’d like to eventually end up, and I’m thinking more and more that I want to be in a smaller university or college library where the emphasis is on being librarians and less on being tenure-track faculty. The pros are that I would be able to stop worrying so much about publications and be able to focus on my strengths like being a (freakin’ awesome*) serials & electronic resources librarian and serving in various professional organizations as well as campus committees. The cons are that I probably won’t have as much support for attending conferences and likely the salary scale would be lower.

So, the question I’m pondering is whether ALA is worth being a member of if one cannot participate on committees because one cannot afford to attend all of the conferences?

* Sorry. I don’t know where that came from. Must be the result of reading two years of Questionable Content strips over the past few days.