librarian diplomacy

rich Little gives a talk about Lizzie Borden

I am, like many librarians, sort of a crabby nitpicker about some things. I think there are optimal ways to do things, particularly with technology. I have, over the past 20+ years of helping people, gotten better at working with people to reach their own good place with how they want technology to work for them. I only talk “optimizing” if someone asks. They rarely ask. This is fine. Working on my anxiety levels has also helped with this somewhat.

I visit libraries like it is my job. I always like a nice public place where I can sit and read or work among other people and not have to buy anything. I like getting ideas by looking at hundreds of books or flipping through magazines. Last night I was at the Tiverton Public Library which is just a few miles from my dad’s place in Massachusetts. They were having a speaker talk about Lizzie Borden. Fun! I found it via the Facebook “events near me” feature which I have never tried before since IN Vermont you usually get … nothing.

The author, Rich Little (above), a math teacher at a local community college, had written a book called Cold Case to Case Closed, Lizbeth Borden, My Story. Fall River is right up the road and the place was PACKED with people, many of whom had a lot of knowledge about the case, some of which conflicted with the speaker’s. It was an entertaining 90 minutes learning more about the Bordens and about Fall River at that time.

Mister Little used large blown-up images of the key players and I immediately thought “Uh oh, no slides?” but it turned out it worked pretty well in the packed room and we could all focus more on what he was saying. He was even pretty deft in dealing with the people in the audience who were pretty set against his interpretation of events (which seemed to be the vibe I got from the Lizzie Borden Society members reviews). I was pleased that I’d overcome my initial concerns to enjoy this great library program.

One weird part, however, was RSVPing for the event. They asked you to call and RSVP. Not usually my communication preference but okay. I left my name, spelling it, and phone number with the library. When I arrived that evening the entire list of names and numbers (with mine written JAZMYN WEST) was on a clipboard in the front lobby on an unstaffed table. While I am pretty good at my “this is a thing on which reasonable people disagree” stance, I think this is a library privacy gaffe. At the same time, I don’t want my only feedback on this otherwise superb event to be “I felt weird that you left my phone number out in public.” so I decided to write all of this out.

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a talk of mine, in comic form

infographic about my talk, sort ofvirtruletka18.ru

Never had one of these done for a talk I’ve given before. I did more of a write-up on my experiences giving three talks in a week (every specific thing was great but the overall busyness was a little much for me) over at the place where I store my newsletter. Still unclear what I’ll be using the blog space for now except possible cross-posting or … something. But wanted to say hello and that I’m still doing my librarian thing.

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2016 in work and money

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 21.19.45

This post leaves me dissatisfied with pie chart makers and is as much a note to myself as anyone else who will read it. Last year was a weird year for work. I picked up a bunch of odd consulting projects, I left my job at Open Library, and I started teaching graduate school on an adjunct basis (and they’re having me back this year!). That big pink chunk is the part I’ll be looking to replace this year. I’m looking for a part-time, mostly telecommute job doing outreach/community work with a library or library organization, or possibly a regular writing job since I liked my last one. I’m interested in doing more teaching. I have a good solid resume which I’ll be sprucing up.

I’ll continue to write for Computers in Libraries, staff drop-in time in Vermont, do public speaking and consulting, and pick up the odd consulting gig. I’ll write my labor of love newsletter which is one of the best things I started doing last year. It’s a little weird to not have One Big Job, but it’s preferable to having One Bad Job. Wish me luck and if I can help you get where you are going on some random way, do let me know.

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2016 reading list and commentary

photo of books on a bookshelf

I started 71 books this year and finished 68. I feel good about not finishing those three. I should really not-finish more books to be honest. I try to read most evenings and most mornings with varying success. I also read a lot on planes and I was not on so many planes this year.

average read per month: 5.67
average read per week: 1.3
number read in worst month: 2 (Jun)
number read in best month: 10 (Oct)
number unfinished: 3
percentage by male authors: 62
percentage by female authors: 38
percentage of authors of color: 7
fiction as percentage of total: 63
non-fiction as percentage of total: 37
percentage of total liked: 87
percentage of total ambivalent: 10
percentage of total disliked: 3

Not as many books this year because I read a few really BIG books (Stephenson and Howey I am looking in your direction) Another year where I read a lot of genre fiction which interferes with reading more by authors of color. A lot of non-neurotypical folks in there, and non-US folks, but that’s not the same. Need to find a way to make this a genuine option for me somehow. Slowly balancing out my male/female reading. I’ve started the Maisie Dobbs series which I like pretty well (though do not love) and read a bunch of “moody seashore” books which were terrific and I’d love to find more. If you’ve made a reading list for last year, I’d love to read it. Happy New Year.

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. My always-updated booklist lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

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2016 in libraries

pie chart of libraries I've visited

I’m a firm believer of eating your own dog food. Meaning if you say stuff about libraries (and I do), then make sure you go to them as if going to them was your JOB (and I do). Don’t just go to the one library where your job is, though that helps.

Every year I make a list. Every year I reflect on that list. This year I went to forty-five libraries in nine states and one non-US country. Eighty-six library visits total. Many more different libraries than last year, but just a few more visits overall. With all this, I only added two new libraries to my Vermont 183 project even as I hand out awards to people who have been to over 190 libraries in Vermont!

Seven years in a row I’ve been keeping this up. Previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003

Libraries I went to more than once include.

  • Kimball (VT) – my local and one of the best libraries in my opinion.
  • Hartness (VT) – my local academic, bigger collection and longer hours but further away
  • Westport (MA) – my summer local, don’t love it but do use it
  • Tiverton (RI) – the library in the summer that I go to more often even if I can’t check out books
  • Carney/Dartmouth (MA) – local academic, another great library, well-loved, well-used
  • Harvard Law Library (MA) – where my fellowship is and where I can go work
  • New Bedford (MA) – used to be a museum, I take guests here
  • Hookset (NH) – here for work, twice, always enjoy it

Libraries I only went to once

  • Gutman (Harvard) – part of an attempt to go to all Harvard’s libraries
  • Winooski (VT) – doing some Passport work here
  • Oak Lawn IL – stopped & checked email on our #WestOn20 trip
  • Library of Congress (DC) – always a favorite
  • Stowe Free (VT) – participated in a panel for their anniversary
  • Newton (MA) – stopped to chill after a long ALA week
  • URI/Carrothers (RI) – gave a talk, visited friends
  • Claremont/Berkeley (CA) – hid out avoiding a kid birthday party
  • Southworth/Dartmouth (MA) – great place to work, lovely art
  • British Library (UK) – got to take my sister to this great place
  • VT Law Library – MontP (VT) – a farewell to a colleague
  • Lamont (Harvard) – so stoked to finally get in here!
  • Aldrich/Barre (VT) – visiting a friend doing some visioning
  • Belchertown (MA) – what a gem! stopped by on the way home from friends’
  • MIT/Hayden (MA) – what a treat after Harvard’s closed system
  • Ames/Easton (MA) – stopped in before a wedding next door
  • Former War Library (DC) – this is basically IN THE WHITE HOUSE, omg
  • Harold Johnson Library, Hampshire (MA) – my alma mater
  • Montpelier (VT) – stopping in before seeing a friend
  • Goddard (VT) – was on the radio!
  • Brown/Northfield (VT) – passport wrap-up
  • Cambridge/Central Branch (MA) – can’t even remember this visit but I am sure I liked it
  • Boston Public (MA) – saw my friend Tom, got a cool tour
  • Schlesinger/Harvard – saw my friend Jen, got a cool tour
  • Lewisham (UK) – a great neighborhood library
  • Watson Retreat Center (NY) – a funky special library
  • Internet Archive (CA) – they say they are a library, so they are
  • Girard (PA) – a round library, part of #WestOn20
  • Caird Library (UK) – at the Naitonal Maritime Museum, not as friendly as I’d hoped
  • Howe/Hanover (NH) – always a favorite
  • MLK Branch (DC) – saw movies about black history and drank it in
  • Weissman/Harvard – a rare open house, I was not allowed to take photos
  • Cazenovia (NY) – a mummy!
  • Manor House (UK) – a library having hard times but doing ok
  • Fairfield/Millicent (MA) – another great library to take friends to
  • BU (MA) – gave a talk, stuck around to see the basement
  • Pollard/Lowell – a great old classic library

I’ve had an average of 80-ish visits per year for a few years now so I think that is my new normal. So a library every five days. A new library every eight days. Maybe when I hit ten years I’ll do a decade long wrap up. I wish this data was all in standard form….

I am very thankful my work takes me to all of these lovely places. Thanks to the librarians who graciously showed me around.

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