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.

4 Responses to “Temporary autonomous librarian zone – SXSWLAM recap”

  1. Lisa Bunker Says:

    Hear, hear. I loved the way the meetup was planned, The zebra props, The tattoos, and the thought that went into keeping us all in touch.

  2. Chad Mairn Says:

    Just curious, is your “Temporary autonomous library zone” title inspired by Hakim Bey? I have his “T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism” book and it is an interesting read. Anyway, I really hope to make it to SXSW next year. Great post!

  3. jessamyn Says:

    Absolutely, I am a fan of the TAZ idea, though I go back and forth on Bey [Peter Lamborn Wilson] myself. Hope you can make it next year!

  4. SXSW notes, Libraries and Archives sessions #sxswLAM | nirak.net Says:

    [...] Temporary autonomous librarian zone – SXSWLAM recap – Jessamyn West [...]