Archive for the 'events' Category

METRO-NY Conference – teaching and learning

I kicked off my year of “Back doing talks” with giving the keynote talk at the METRO-NY’s annual conference. I was invited by Jason Kucsma who I know from way back in the day as one of the founders of Clamor Magazine, where I wrote an article about the USA PATRIOT Act in 2004. Jason is now the executive director of METRO-NY and we marveled at how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Clamor’s back issues are hosted at the Internet Archive. They also do Open Library which I’ve been volunteering for over the past year.

My talk was about the past eighteen months of fair use and other similar decisions that we’ve seen in the courts recently and talking about how now, more than ever, it’s a good time to start affirmatively and possibly aggressively sharing our cultural content. You can read the talk online here and see my notes.

One of my favorite things about going to conferences to speak is that I also get to go to listen. I went to three presentations and I had useful takeaways from all of them. This is what I learned.

  • Beyond Digitization: Hacking Structured Data out of Historical Documents – this was a presentation by a few of the folks at NYPL labs discussing how their crowdsourced “help us structure the data in our theater program” project worked. Great demo, interesting talk. Big takeaway: data, raw data, needs to be “first class citizen” in libraries and be available like other materials. We have a lot of content that isn’t just in monograph/serial form, we should get it out there.
  • Open Access is a Lot of Work!: How I Took a Journal Open Access and Lived to Tell About It – Emily Drabinski talked about how she got the Radical Teacher monograph into an open access model and how it was worth it but also a lot of work. Big takeaway: shifting the model to where you do more labor for the project instead of just paying more for it can be useful in not just bottom-line cash ways.
  • Transforming Computer Training Services @ Your Library – Brandy McNeil at NYPL has turned their tech training program into a big, polished, smoothly working system. This is partly because of funding but in many ways it’s because of the buy-in she was able to get and the collaborations that she did with many other people (branch managers, marketers, IT people, etc) and she outlined how that worked and why it was worth it. Big takeaway: centralizing services and having a consistently branded approach can be very useful in a situation where you have 80+ sites and three languages and countless people and spaces to work with.

The annual banned books week roundup for 2013

salinger's 60 years later, banned in the US

For some reason last year I didn’t do my annual roundup of Banned Books Week websites. Here is a link to the source of the image above which is from the New Yorker’s article about the JD Salinger-evocative book 60 Years Later, Coming Through the Rye which is illegal to sell in the US. You can find more news articles about that situation at the author’s small Wikipedia page. You can look at past posts on this topic by checking out the bannedbooksweek tag here or here is a list of the annual posts: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. I skipped 2005 and 2012.

As usual, you get a neat real-time look at what’s going on by following the Twitter hashtag. Do NOT look at the bbw twitter hashtag as I mistakenly did last night. As usual there are two “main” sites the ALA site at ala.org/bbooks and the bannedbooksweek.org site which is really nice looking this year. The BannedBooksWeek Twitter account is still moribund which is a damned shame. The Virtual Read Out doesn’t seem to have any new videos this year… yet?

Please remember if you are a librarian who has a book that is challenged, report it to the ALA so they can keep track of it.

Here is the list of organizations who are co-sponsors. Let’s look at their websites.

The language of the censor is the language of the tyrant, the absolutist, the one with no vision. It is the antithesis of art because it assumes that there is only one perspective, one reality, and that anything that fails to rhyme with it is a sin against nature. But the real sin against nature is to suffocate personal truths and experiences with wobbly doctrine and to disguise it as morally just. Art— particularly literature—exists to show us there are as many worlds as there are people. Each of these worlds come with its own laws. These laws vary from person to person, but if there is one that they have in common it is to share your truth. We owe it to our humanity and our short time among other humans to respect the truths that are shared with us. – Nick Burd

Websites are working and the word is getting out. I was pleased with this year’s collections of content. What I’m concerned about, as per usual, are challenges and censorship that don’t even reach the physical items on the library shelves. What about this Salinger book? Worldcat shows 40 copies of it, a handful of which are in the US, and the reviews of it haven’t been so great anyhow. But the idea that the book wasn’t obtained and removed, it was never obtained in the first place (as we see with so much born-digital content that we can’t even get in lendable format) opens a door to all new ways that libraries can not get books. The old challenges (dirty cowboy? really? do not google that) remain and new ones appear.

National Library Week – you belong @ your library

So National Library Week starts today which is complicated because it’s a Sunday and most libraries are closed on Sunday. It’s also Easter which means some more libraries are closed on Easter. So this is good news if you’re scheming for stuff to do over the week, less good news if you’re a patron wanting to celebrate. This year’s theme is “You belong @ your library” which continues with the @ motif that ALA has been using since 1997. The actual national event has been going since 1958 and the first year’s theme was “Wake up and Read.” ALA has been the sole sponsor since 1974. If you want to get something started today, ALA has made some fairly nifty facebook “cover art” that you might like. Me, I’m waiting for the State of America’s Libraries report that is coming out on Monday because I always use those statistics in my digital divide talks and I’m always curious about trends in connectivity and tech use at libraries. Also who doesn’t like National Bookmobile Day?

This has been a tough year to be a library in many places. A friend sent me the video below where the Troy Library (MI) went all out with a “Okay you want to close the library? Let’s burn the books!” hoax campaign that actually got people thinking about why it’s important to keep the library doors open. While some folks might consider this an epic troll, I also think it does a good job redirecting people’s concerns from the Tea Party message of “money money” to the broader concern of “community community” which I think is a helpful shift and the social media angle is interesting. However not everyone thinks that this sort of stunt is helpful. As much as it was a fun jape, it doesn’t seem like any of the other library workers or supporters were in on the joke which turned into a bit of a PR mess. I’m not sure if the website for the Book Burning Party wasn’t as clear about their goals as it is now.

Temporary autonomous librarian zone – SXSWLAM recap

librarians are the coolest people at SXSW

It’s a pretty standard view of our profession that one of the things that makes a librarian a librarian is that they work in or with a library. That’s changing in weird and new ways, sort of. I just got back from SXSW and was really delighted to see a strong librarian presence in a number of new and useful ways. For people who are already part of the #SXSWLAM movement, you may already know this stuff, but for people curious how to make librarians into a presence, a terrific and “I want to hang out with those people and have what they’re having” presence, read on.

A lot of this stuff got started with a few high-traffic groups on facebook. I’ve been following along with ALA Think Tank for a while. They have managed to do the impossible: making the idea of joining ALA so that you could hang out with these folks seem like a really good idea. Nice work team. After SXSW last year, an event that had a really good turn out for a librarian meetup, a bunch of folks decided to really turn on the librarian energy and make a concerted effort to be Library Everywhere at SXSW. There was a group set up–#sxswLAM = Librar* + Archiv* + Museum*–a lot of scheming happening and some pretty amazing results.

There were a huge roster of presentations by and for librarians to choose from. I managed to go to a few and was happy to see both librarians and non-librarians in the audience. I enjoyed a solo presentation, The Great Library Swindle, by Carson Block and a really lively panel by some folks you know and love (Char Booth, Michael Porter, Nate Hill and Amy Buckland) called Making Stories: Libraries & Community Publishing (note: you can listen to this panel because the MP3 of the presentation is up already, how cool is that?).

There was also activity and liasoning with the library school at UT Austin. Paul Vinelli who has been blogging about the conference for ALA (posts: 1, 2, 3, 4) created a SXSWi primer for rowdy librarians which made the rounds beforehand and was a good guide for conference n00bs. ALA veteran John Chrastka, now doing his own thing at AssociaDirect did a little branding/fundraising and helped the crew get their own temporary tattoos and anyone who ran into one of the posse would get a baggie with some tattoos and other schwag. I wore my zebra stripe wristband the whole week.

There was also a meetup, a drinkup, and a lot of other activities where you could hang out with other librarians and just have a good time. A lot of this was coordinated through phone apps like GroupMe and the standard twittering and facebook. My two favorite parts of the whole thing (and as someone with a few different posses at SXSW, I didn’t participate too much but was cheering from the sidelines) were the upbeat energy and the inclusiveness. Anyone who wanted to be a part of it was welcome and the people involved were friendly, organized and fun. Big props to Andrea Davis, one of this years Library Journal Movers and Shakers, and Lisa Carlucci Thomas, who were two of the driving forces behind this year’s librarian surge.

Big Talk From Small Libraries – free online conference Tuesday Feb 28th

I am doing a new thing this year. Well I’m doing a few new things overall, like learning ukulele, but one big thing professionally. I’ve decided to try to do a few webinars, both attending and presenting, to see how they go. In the past I’ve sort of skipped webinars on principle. I find the software difficult and it’s challenging for me to talk about good technology when using bad technology. I’m also just not that good at presenting to an unseen audience. However last year I was invited to do a lighting talk of a sort and I enjoyed it; it was even pretty low tech, using Skype to connect. There was a lot of back and forth on Twitter and good feedback/questions which was different from the last webinars I did several years ago where I wasn’t even sure people were tuning in at all. I’ve also noticed there have been a few one-day events that have gotten people talking that I might like to attend. So I’ve been exploring. Who knows, next thing you know I may start reading ebooks….

So, this is a long way of saying that I’ll be presenting with a bunch of other great librarians at the Nebraska Library Commission’s Big Talk for Small Libraries conference this Tuesday. You can see the schedule here (be aware it’s all in Central Time) and read the FAQ here. With eight speakers who are all people who work in small libraries, over 300 attendees, and a homegrown back channel, I think it will be an interesting day. Free as in beer. I think it will be a good time.

our relationships with our vendors – selling contact information from conferences

I spoke at a conference recently. I speak at a lot of conferences. Most conferences give me complimentary registration which I enjoy because then I can see other programs and hobnob with people. Only recently has this become a problem. A recent conference that shall remain nameless apparently gave my registration information [well, email address for certain, not sure about anything else] to their vendors. I know this because I have received ten emails from vendors saying “Good to see you at the conference!” Since I barely work in a public library, I am certain that I did not give these vendors my personal information. Getting extra email only ranks as a minor annoyance to me. I politely email companies back and asked to be taken off of their lists and they mostly comply. However, having to do this nearly a dozen times per conference should this sort of thing become the norm, does not scale.

I would like to make a somewhat open appeal to conference organizers to make the distribution of registrants’ personal information something that is only done if people specifically and affirmatively decide that this is okay. Every business best practice says that you can’t sell or give away people’s personal information without their consent. We are a profession that is big on privacy. I’d like to see us do this right as well. Here is the email that I sent to the conference organizers.

Hi — I spoke at the recent XXLA conference. XXLA is one of my favorite events and I’m always happy to support it and this year’s event was particularly enjoyable. I registered [and received free registration] as part of my agreement to speak. I stopped by the exhibits hall while I was there but did not give anyone my contact information. This is now the tenth email I have received from a XXLA vendor saying some variant of “Good to see you at XXLA” While I reply politely to these emails asking to be taken off of their mailing list I’m concerned that I never opted in to receive them in the first place and assume my registration information was given to vendors without my explicit permission.

I would like to politely request that registration for the conference is not seen as a blanket approval to receive marketing contacts from vendors. I understand that XXLA has to make ends meet, but not allowing people to opt in or opt out from these communications is a bad business practice. Additionally, and this is more my problem than yours, as someone who speaks at multiple conferences yearly, this small problem quickly becomes an out of control problem. I’d like XXLA to reconsider their practice of giving out registrants’ email addresses without giving people an option to opt out. Thanks for your time.

an ebook is not a book, discuss?

I had a busy week. It wrapped up in the lovely state of Maine where I got to talk about the digital divide and ebooks to a bunch of Maine librarians. The digital divide talk is probably one you’ve seen various versions of, but the ebooks one is more or less new. My assertion is that the problem of ebooks is the problem of multiple perspectives [readers and authors and publishers and librarians don't even agree on the landscape, much less the trees] as well as the problem of metaphors. At its core, one of the difficulties in teaching people about technology is that it’s teaching people to manage real invisible things [files, websites, social content] through a series of metaphors ["folders" "tagging" "friending"] that are more or less complex depending on people’s level of existing knowledge. While the printed word and language generally is something of a metaphor, you can read a book without really having to think about that level of abstraction. We’re not there yet with ebooks and the metaphors confuse the reality, a reality that is still shifting, hopefully moving towards if not some standards, at least some etiquette.

In any case, both talks are here. I got a lot of good feedback on my general topic from Twitter and other social media interchange arenas. Thanks to those who helped me with this, and thanks to the nice librarians from Maine for coming to listen and talk.

What I did at TXLA – the library version

Rally for Texas Libraries

So there are two reports about what I did in Austin, what I ate and what I did at TLA. Sometimes they overlap. That said, this is the what I did at TxLA post. The other one will be over at jessamyn.com. I’ll add a note here when I’ve posted it.

I went to TxLA to give a talk about the digital divide. I had done a talk the previous month for SXSW but really it was mostly me introducing my co-presenters and then letting them go. I have a little page for that here and you can listen to how it went here. I was pleased with it, but it wasn’t the talk I wanted to give for TxLA. Here is the talk that I gave for TxLA (an all new talk, one that I’m very happy with) and here is a blog-report of it. I felt like it went well, though one of the downsides to being at a giant conference is that a lot of the talks, even ones that I thought would be crazy popular, were only about half full. Here is what else I saw

  • The American Warn on Sex – Marty Klein has written a book by the same name. He does a terrific talk about how encroaching fundamentalism is causing people to basically self-censor in order to “be polite” and it’s shifting our ideas of what it means to be American, and how to participate civically. He’s a funny guy with a very professional talk and I think everyone should hire him to speak at their library conference.
  • I saw Aaron Schmidt’s talk on user experience. While I know the things Aaron talks about generally, I haven’t seen him give a talk in a long time and it was neat to get to see him really untangle what we can do to make our websites more usable.
  • I saw John Scalzi and a host of other authors on a Sci-Fi panel–Science Fiction: Beyond Earth’s Boundaries–which was great fun. I know John Scalzi online through MetaFilter and was mostly going to say hi. The panel itself turned out to be wonderful. Six very different authors who spoke briefly and then answered questions for an hour, talking about their craft and the world of epic fantasy and how they got into the business. Enthusiastic audience and a really great moderator made this a fun panel.
  • Library Book Cart Drill Team requires no additional explanation. Was terrific. It’s always terrific. Here’s a video you might like.
  • Did I mention that TXLA had an app and a very well-curated Twitter feed and hash tag? Both of them were great ways to see what was happening at the conference in real time. For people with non-app phones that could still use browsers, there was a really simple mobile site that functioned well. Big props to Chris Jowaisas for the work he did on this as a newish TLA member.
  • Oh I think I forgot to mention the rally! There was a huge Rally for Texas Libraries which happened on Wednesday. That’s what the photo is from. There were more librarians on the statehouse lawn than there ar in the entire state of Vermont. It was impressive, well-organized and well-planned. Short and to the point and they even got a few reps to come out and say a few things. Inspiring.
  • I went to this Dollars for Digitzation panel where three different women spoke about applying for and getting grants for large-scale digitization projects. Tons of good information.
  • Small Community Libraries Dessert Social was a great place to chitchat with librarians at small rural Texas libraries. Plus there was a lot of dessert. Very nice people, thanks to Judy Daniluk for stopping by to say hi and encouraging me to go to this.

That’s the stuff I can remember for now, with the help of the app and some notes and some photos. My Austin photoset [including a few photos from SXSW and a few from TXLA] is up and online and you’re welcome to check it out. Thanks so much to TLA for TXLA11 and to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for having me come down, it was wonderful.

The Digital Public Library of America and you, and me

Those of you who follow my antics know I was at an all-day meeting for the Digital Public Library of America project on Tuesday. While I have vague ideas what I was doing there, I have to say that I was still surprised at how few other representatives of rural and/or digitally divided folks were there. You can see the invite list here. I felt lucky that many of my viewpoints were ably represented by Josie Parker from Ann Arbor Public Library, Tony Marx from New York Public Library and Molly Raphael incoming president of ALA. Also in attendance were some of my favorite free culture folks: Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive, Chris Freeland from the Biodiversity Heritage Library and my friend Richard Nash who runs Cursor Books. I also got to sit right next to Steve Potash from OverDrive right when everyone wanted a piece of him. That said, you can read the list and I’m sure you only vaguely care who I had dinner with. The meeting took place using Chatham House Rules meaning that in the interests of people being able to speak freely, nothing people said would be directly attributed to them.

So, let’s talk about what actually got me out of bed early on a Tuesday morning and has had me all hoppitamoppita since then. I’m going to use the “more inside” thingdoo on WordPress for possibly the first time ever. (more…)

Dartmouth’s October Conference – my slides, others’ slides

One of my favorite conferences is the October Conference put on by Dartmouth’s Biomedical Libraries. I went once as an attendee several years ago and this time I went as the opening speaker [I said "Please don't call it the keynote, that's pressure!"]. The conference idea is simple: share things that are working for you at your library. It’s a one day affair with ample coffee, snacks and lunch, reasonably priced and wraps up early enough so that you can be home by dinner, no matter where in New England you’re from. Talks are all 30 or 15 minutes and go quickly. None of the topics are “biomedical libraries” in nature, at all. Most of the librarians in attendance are academic, I’m pretty sure.

I did a talk on location awareness which was 100% new [I didn't even repurpose any old crowd-pleaser images] and talked about what’s coming down the pike in terms of mobile stuff — how HTML5 is going to change the idea of “apps” for a lot of people, what some companies and libraries are doing, why people find this fun. It was called The Mayor of Everywhere Using Social Tools to Be More Places at Once and uses my now-old-timey-seeming HTML slides. Scroll to the end and click “printable” to read the talk as I gave it. It was well-received.

You can benefit from this conference even if you weren’t there because everyone’s slides are online in PDF form. Here’s the website for the conference. If you didn’t go this year, you should try to go next year.