A week of technology instruction

Ian's pollinator talk.

So since I left MetaFilter almost a year ago, my goal was to spend more time “librarianing” I have a part time job with the Internet Archive running Open Library. I write for The Message a Medium publication, sometimes about librarianship and sometimes not. I write monthly for Computers in Libraries. I do my local technology instruction through the Adult Education program at the local vocational high school. In the past I’ve also done a lot of “How I do it” talks on the road at library conferences. I have not been doing that this month. Instead, I’ve been picking up more local tech instruction work, some paid and some unpaid. It’s been a fun busy week here and I thought I’d outline a few things I’ve done that people might be interested in.

  1. I taught an iPad class in a “pop up” university in the local town. Some local folks started Bethel University a local skillshare program. I offered an iPad class. People could read the list of classes via a home made WordPress setup and RSVP via EventBrite. I had ten students, most new-ish to the world of iPads and we talked about a lot of iPad features, did some exercises together and I answered a lot of questions. Fun. Free for everyone. I donated my time. I got photocopies for free. The class was held in the library which donated the space. Win. Win. Win.

  2. I taught the last class of my college credit class on integrating technology for teachers at the vocational high school. Through a collaboration with a state university, teachers could take a one-credit continuing education class with me learning how to use the Google Suite of tools for education. We wrapped up with class presentations (ten minute slide presentations demonstrating some of the things we’d learned, Ian discusses pollinators above) and it was a joy to see how much people had learned and seeing them applying it to their own classrooms. I learned a lot and this gig also paid via grant money given to RTCC for teacher continuing education, coordinated through the adult education department.
  3. Drop-in time had a bunch of new computer users who were at the “How do I turn it on?” phase of technology learning. There were a lot of people at drop-in time last week, so I grouped them together and got a few of them started with Google and a few basic commands: back, reload, scroll, click. Every so often when I was helping someone else, I’d hear peals of laughter from that part of the room as they took delight in things I’ve become jaded to such as custom 404 pages.

I also finished a Computers in Libraries article today about data collection and was pleased to see one of my local colleague, Amber Billey a metadata librarian at UVM, get listed as one of Seven Days’ Seven Vermont Women to Watch. If there’s a meta-story to this post it’s that staying local and working on the digital divide in your own backyard has been, for me, as satisfying as being on the road. And a little more calm.

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quick parent safety lectures

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The principals of all the local schools got together and did a parent safety evening at the school. I was one of the presenters. I think they were expecting a big turnout, but it was a small (but interested) crowd. I did two very short presentations

1. Ten apps in ten minutes. For parents who are not using mobile devices for social purposes outside of facebook, knowing what the various apps are and what they do can be useful. I just had a very basic slide deck and talked over some images of the apps. I had to learn to use Snapchat which was sort of hilarious.

2. “How the heck does this work” a short talk about things parents can control in their home internet environment and what they can’t. Obviously the standard line is that the best thing you can do is talk to your kids and this is more useful than just using technological tools on what is, ultimately, more of a social problem. That said, it’s good to understand what you can and can’t do with the technology.

Most importantly was, I think, people seeing and getting to know each other and getting to have conversations about what their systems were at home. One parent charged all the devices in his room at night, for example, so the kids couldn’t sleep with their phones. Another had a “no phones/devices before homework is done” policy. Another had a “two hours of screen time a night” rule. I was glad to be a “local expert” of a sort who could give people some perspective on what technology can look like form another direction. The newspaper wrote up a short article about the event. Feel free to use my slides for your own safety talks.

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How to hold a blood drive in the spirit of intellectual freedom

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It’s been fun being able to follow along with the ALA Midwinter conference on a bunch of different social media fronts. I was just reading the Stonewall Book Awards press release (congrats everyone) and noticed the GLBT Round Table page where I read the press release about the blood drive that happened during ALA. And it made me happy. Both because there was a blood drive but also because there was the recognition of the discriminatory nature of the decisions regarding the eligible donor pool–nearly all gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood at all–and they not only mention this in the press release but there is a panel discussing this and related issues. Nice work.

ALA and LBC (Librarians Build Communities) recognize there are many restrictions regarding blood donations. Among those is the ban on accepting blood donations from men who have had sex with another man since 1977. This effectively removes all gay and bisexual men from being eligible blood donors. However, the FDA has recently announced plans to relax the ban to allow donations by gay and bisexual men if they have not had sex with another man in the past year.


From the onset, this ban has been controversial. While the government has imposed exclusions that limit or restrict the donor pool, the ban on accepting blood donations from gay and bisexual men is deemed by many as unjustified and discriminatory, unfairly prohibiting healthy men from donating much needed, life-saving blood.


In an effort to educate the library community about the issues regarding blood donations, the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) is sponsoring the discussion panel “Blood Donation: Facts, Fear, and Discrimination,” on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. LBC supports the GLBTRT’s panel discussion and encourages ALA members to both donate blood and attend the panel discussion to be informed and have their voices heard.

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An MLK day story on the importance of librarians and archivists

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviews Brian DeShazor the director of the Pacifica Radio Archives. He talks about finding a lost speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

So, this recording, this archive is an American treasure, and every citizen in America, I hope, understands that this collection, we want to be able to make it accessible to you, the public. We want it to be in the classrooms. We want it to be in high schools. We want universities to have this for their scholarly research and their scholarly endeavors. And that will make history change. It will be able to have us, the political left, Free photo effectsif you will, the progressive left, the record of the activism available for history in the future. And if we don’t preserve this deteriorating, fragile tape, then that history will be lost, and we’ll lose the connection with our elders, like Dr. King. This very speech, this may have the quote that inspires somebody to take the next step in our fight for racial equality and justice in America.

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2014 in libraries

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I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. Previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 (and this little list of reviews from 2003)

I went to thirty-six different libraries in seven states and two non-US countries for eighty visits total. A bunch more than last year, but some were just for ukulele practice or tech planning sessions at a friend’s library. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are: my local public, my local academic and my summer local.

  • Kimball – my local and also the place that hosts Ukulele Club
  • Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here. Good hours, great place to hang out.
  • Carney – UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time
  • Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning, I go here often
  • Somerville West – did a talk and stopped by here another time. Lovely upstairs.
  • Goddard – did some VLA website work here
  • Fairfield/Millicent – One of the most amazing looking libraries in MA with some cool local lore
  • Aldrich/Barre – Went to a few meetings, my favorite local library renovation story
  • Mackinac Island MI – small and lovely with a great book sale and classic furniture
  • NYLP/SIBL – keep waiting for them to close this but they haven’t yet
  • Southworth/Dartmouth – they have a harpoon display here!
  • Pierson/Shelburne VT – went to a meeting, small with a great puzzle collection
  • St Ignace MI – killing time while stranded here, this is a great building where you wouldn’t expect it
  • Atwater/Montreal – my favorite Canadian library
  • British Library – got an awesome tour from Stella Wisdom
  • ULU Senate Hall UK – got a great tour from Simon who no longer works there
  • Rockingham VT – dropped off some things, stuck around to take a peek at this great place
  • Guilford UK – one of the smaller local publics, nice with a watch museum next door
  • Roxbury VT – helped with the automation project
  • Artizan St UK – community center, small and busy
  • John Harvard Library UK – had an odd section for Black Titles and a security guard
  • Sunderland MA – great place to pass the time en route to or from Amherst
  • Somerville MA – the other little library
  • Boxboro MA – wifi to check email if you are early to visit Mom
  • Boston Public – got a great tour by Tom Blake and saw some great stuff
  • Sun City AZ – hanging out while visiting Jim’s folks
  • UM – Duluth – Chihuly sculpture!
  • NYPL/Epiphany – I always love the huge staircase in here
  • Duluth MN – bizarre design but fun to hang out in
  • Westport MA – great DVD collection, sort of an odd place
  • Barbican UK – inside the funky Barbican, lots of great UK history books
  • Varnum, Cambridge VT – stopped by randomly, folks were so nice and friendly
  • Ashfield MA – gave a talk, enjoyed getting to see the place
  • NYPL/Kipp’s Bay – small and in need of renovation but warm and welcoming
  • City University, UK – stopped to check email en route to dinner, nice place, square dancing outside
  • Vicksburg MS – neat renovation, fun kids area

Did not get to as many Vermont libraries as I had wanted to as part of my 183 project. Working slowly on maybe getting a statewide 183 project up and running with other members of the VLA. Looking forward to another year of library visiting.

Apologies for putting Duluth in MI accidentally. Now fixed.

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