Q. Who are you? What is this site about?
A. My name is Jessamyn West. I’m a sometimes librarian, sometimes writer, sometimes blogger, and sometimes technology instructor/consultant. librarian.net is my weblog and it has been going since April 20, 1999. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first single-editor library-oriented weblog. You can get more of an idea of what I do by looking at my resume, or the talks I’ve given, or the Wikipedia entry about me or you can just browse this site.
Q. I would like to send you advertising for my library product or soon-to-be-published book, can I?
A. I react very negatively to junk mail. If you would like me to link to your site, read your book, or check out your library product, please send me a personal email explaining why you think it would be appropriate. Any spammy junk email about your product will be deleted. Press releases copied and pasted into my mailto form will be deleted. Feel free to read my review policy for more information on what I like to read and write about.
Q. I’d like you to come speak at my event, will you?
A. Generally, I love to come give talks, do presentations, or otherwise participate in librarian events. If you’re charging admission, or doing a training for work, I’d like a speaker’s fee but it’s negotiable. I expect travel, lodging and expenses to be covered, though I tend to travel cheaply. My fees hover in the mid-to-high-three-figures and vary more based on hassle factors than travel time or speaking time. You can look through some of my presentations on this page to see if what I offer is what you’re looking for.
Q. I’d like you to write an article/chapter/book with me or for me, will you?
A. I like to write and I have a fair amount of free time. However, I am reaching the limits of enjoying writing for free. In certain cases, I will still do it. Let me know about your project and how I can help.
Q. Can I interview you for an article/class?
A. Sure. I’ll do interviews via chat, phone, or email, preferring them in that order.
Q. I did email you but you never wrote back, what’s up?
A. I try hard to reply to all email that requests a reply, and sometimes I get behind. I also have aggressive spam-filtering that can sometimes snag real messages. If you have a time-sensitive question that needs my attention, please resend it, or feel free to call me on the phone.
Q. What blog software do you use, and what have you done with it?
A. I use WordPress and I host this site at ibiblio. You can see a list of the modifications I’ve made to the standard WP install on this page but it’s pretty out of date.
Q. How do you create the slides you make for your talks?
A. The old ones are an HTML + CSS solution that is meant to look a little like Powerpoint. You can read a little more about it here and since it’s available via a Creative Commons license, you can download a copy and use it yourself. Lately I’ve been using Keynote more for presentations.
Q. I have an event/petition/survey I’d like you to publicize, will you?
A. If there’s space and your event is relevant to the sort of thing I link here, I’d love to link to your site. I do not post press releases or other long texty messages; without a link, it will not be on librarian.net.
Q. Do you have a comment policy?
A.Yes, thank for asking. My policy is that this is my site and I want people to treat other people with respect and civility. Comments are for discussing the subject of the post and interacting with other commenters, not for regurgitating talking points about various issues and/or taking potshots at unrelated topics or individuals. Comments that violate these guidelines, or call other posters names or are generally uncivil in tone will be removed at my discretion. I do not edit comments except by request of the poster. I do not remove comments because of their content, but I may remove comments because of their tone. Tone is under your control as a commenter. Additionally spammy comments are not appreciated and will be removed.
Q. I have a reference question. Can you tell me….?
A. This web site is not a work web site, I operate it out of my home and do not have any more reference materials available to me than you and your Internet connection do. Feel free to ask these many other fine librarians for assistance. Any other reference questions can be answered on a pay-or-barter for services basis by specific arrangement.
Q. I’m trying to figure out which library school to go to, can you assist me…?
A. My stock answer is that it’s more important to enjoy school, get good work & professional experience in school, and like where you are living than to go to a “top school” Others would disagree. The school I went to was not as hot when I was there, but it’s hot now. I have very good friends who went to UMich, San Jose State, Simmons and UIUC. If you’d like to chat about school choices, please email me.
Q. I have a question about libraries in your country. Can you tell me…?
A. I am generally not the world’s best expert on library systems. I have little actual library experience and I would probably be looking the answer up on Google, same as you. I recommend going to one of the US professional library organizations’ web sites to help you get more information on US library systems.
Q. How can I get my product or service viewed by librarians?
A. The short answer to this question is “Go to library conferences, have a decent pitch, be familiar with their issues and concerns and don’t be the typical salesperson.” The longer answer involves really figuring out what libraries need and explaining why your product helps out in some way. Librarians are continually pitched to by people with very little understanding of their business model or why a particular product or service is any better than what they are currently using. Have some good answers to that question before you start. Have some good materials that librarians can take home if they don’t buy on the spot.
If you are a publisher, particularly a small publisher, the most direct route to getting a book in libraries is getting good reviews in a library publication such as Booklist or Library Journal. Yes this can mean giving away some copies of your book. Also, as a personal aside, keep in mind that not all library bloggers are librarians, are in charge of purchasing decisions at their libraries, or read the sort of book that you are publishing. Most do not review books on their library blogs. I have been sent many advance copies of books, despite being very clear about my review policy, and then received “When are you going to review my book on your website?” queries. Try not to spam bloggers with your press releases. It wastes everyone’s time. Jeffrey Yamaguchi has a very good list of other ways publishers can get the word out.
Q. Isn’t “anarchist librarian” an oxymoron.
what ever happened to…?
Q. What ever happened to [some link I’m looking for that was on your site]?
A. Not sure. The site search is working better now that it’s powered by Google, so feel free to try again. Otherwise I’ll happily look for the link if you can describe it.
Q. What ever happened to the tattooed librarian page you used to have?
A. Gail put up a page that covered a lot of the same ground and was doing a great job at it, so I retired my page a few years ago. The Modified Librarians group on Flickr has the best tattooed (and pierced) librarian photos lately, I’ve found.
the book: Without a Net Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide
Q. Where can I get this book?
A. I made a page for it here which includes places to buy it and information from the appendix.
Q. Did you like working with ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited?
A. Not really, no. My editor Barbara Ittner was amazing and a delight but every other part of the process was frustrating and time-consuming and the copy-editing process specifically was a mess. Not in a “Oh I don’t like it when they edit my precious words” way but in a “They introduced many errors in the editing process” way.
the other book: revolting librarians redux
Q. Why is your book so expensive?
A. Because McFarland is a small publisher, we are new author/editors, and we had no choice. Used copies are showing up every day, and McF generally sells them for 20% off at conferences. I recommend buying one for your library, or requesting that they buy one for you.
Q. Did you like working with McFarland?
A. Overall, yes. They are honest and interesting folks. We had a few differences of opinion, but I would recommend them to any first-time author looking to publish a book about libraries, baseball or the Civil War.