talk: adventures in virtual reference

I went out to Oregon to give a talk to the people who staff L-net, the 24/7 virtual reference service for the state of Oregon. They have a yearly conference which is a lot of fun. Video from the talks will be available at some point, but I figured I’d link to my talk now. I talked about Ask MetaFilter and a little bit about what we do there and how it is and is not like other forms of virtual reference. Lots of stats. Lots of anecdotes and sample questions. The Slideshare version doesn’t seem to have the notes attached and functional (attached yes, accurate, no), so while I hammer that out from them, you can also go to the talk’s page on librarian.net and download whichever version you want. Thanks to all who attended on Friday.

A few talks, a few links

Talking about the digital divide in Connecticut is a lot different from talking about it in Texas, or even Vermont. Unlike most states I’ve looked at, Connecticut really doesn’t have a large population of people who live in an area where they can’t get broadband. I’m sure it has the same numbers of offline people, generally speaking, but whatever their reasons for being offline are, they’re not for lack of access. I admit, I played this for laughs a bit at my CLA since I know that people aren’t going to confuse broadband access with technological know-how and will still see that there is work to be done.

All my talks went well. Here’s what I’ve been up to recently

  • Last Thursday I was on a panel with some interesting people including the soon-to-be-president of ALA Molly Raphael. We answered some provocative questions about the future of libraries and mostly had a great time.
  • Friday I gave my talk about developing a technology curriculum for libraries. For those of you used to my usual stuff, this was a departure. Not heavily attended–it was in one of the last timeslots of the conference–but I was pleased with it. If you’re considering a technology curriculum, you might be interested in my short set of notes/slides. I got to present with Anna Fahey-Flynn who is Curriculum Development Librarian at Boston Public and it was really interesting to see how their tech instruction program is coming together.
  • Over the weekend I walked around in the sun in Massachusetts and then headed to CT for the CT Library Association conference. Before attending the conference I was interviewed for public acess TV in Manhattan about the Google Books project and copyright and a few other things. No idea when this will go live, but if you think you’ve seen me on tv talking about Google Books, you may have.
  • Tuesday I gave a talk about myths about the digital divide, similar to my Texas talk but with some local examples.

As usual, I also got to attend some great presentations including a talk by BPL and the Internet Archive [at MLA] about how they’re working together to provide digital access to library content via Open Library. This may be a personal thing, but I’m always excited when libraries test boundaries and tell us “We checked with our lawyers and they think this is an acceptable level of risk.” I also saw a CMS smackdown/comparison [Drupal vs. WordPress] by Polly-Alida Farrington and Shanon Clapp which was full of good information and delivered with a friendly “you can do it!” approach. I also saw John Palfrey’s closing keynote talking about the digital divide and some of what Harvard’s Library Lab has been up to, and the DPLA and other things. I’ve mostly seen him in contexts where he was talking to non-librarians so it was fun to see him explaining a lot of these big idea projects on my home turf.

I’m home for a bit, back to teaching my Know Your Mac classes, staffing drop-in time, filling in at the public library and waiting for my book to be in print [this week, here's hoping] and then travelling to Portland at the end of the month for the Oregon Virtual Reference Summit.

Some upcoming travel – please say hi

Speaking at library and library-type conferences seems to mostly keep me busy for March – May and October – November. This week I’ll be headed down to Danvers MA for MLA and then on to Stamford CT for CLA. In both cases I’m speaking but also trying to attend as much of the conferences as I can given my night owl tendencies. Here’s where I’ll be, please say hi if you see me, or come to one of my talks.

    MLA – Thursday the 28th at 1 pm – I’ll be on the Future of Libraries, or, What the Heck are You Thinking? panel along with Scot Colford, Kieth Michael Fiels and Maureen Sullivan which is sure to be interesting and probably fun.
  • MLA – Friday the 29th at 10:30 I’ll be talking about Curriculum Development for Public Libraries along with Anna Fahey-Flynn from BPL. Sort of a new direction and I’m looking forward to it.
  • CLA – Tuesday May 3rd at 2:40 I’ll be talking about the myths we believe about the digital divide and offer some researched based statistics as to what’s really going on.

In june I’ll be doing a talk for NELA-ITS and heading over to Oregon for the Oregon Virtual Reference Summit in The Dalles. This is all a good way to channel fidgets since I’m all “EEeeeeee” waiting for my book to come out. Thanks in advance for saying hello.

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.

Notes/slides/audio from my digital divide panel at SXSW

This year SXSW got the audio up from the panels very quickly. This panel isn’t mostly me, it’s mostly my two co-panelists Fiona Morgan and Justin Grimes talking about the other non-library issues surrounding how and why people can or can’t get access to broadband internet. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you might like it. The panel went well, was well attended and started a lot of conversations that I think still need to be happening. I myself was without decent internet here at home for the past week since I got back from SXSW (I switched ISPs and had some in-between time where I “only” had access via my iphone and local wifi including, yes, the library) and it changed my life patterns more than I even thought it would. Interesting times.

Here are the slides (mine and Fiona’s and the text of my talk) and here is the panel page on the SXSW page which has the audio link after the blurb.

virtual conferencing and a few more talks

I was at an NHLA business meeting talking to people about why they might care about what I had for breakfast. It’s a flip way of talking about the whole “Who cares about Twitter/Facebook/Social?” stuff that I feel I hear softly filtering down from offline populations who mostly know about this sort of technology through print media and TV. So, given an opportunity to talk about what I do all day, I explained how social media permeates and penetrates the things I do.

My employer, MetaFilter, has a strong social component as well as claiming over 200 librarians among its members. While the site itself is fairly restricted to bloggish interaction, we have some super-organized members who like to compile Best Of sorts of lists over on our wiki. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Read Me page on the wiki now has links to over 1000 threads worth of book recommendations.

Last week I was down at Simmons where I gave a really short talk about … talking. Basically talking about what public speaking entails and offers in the larger world of librarianship. It’s called “You Do What For A Job?” and you might like it.

So, since I was sticking around town working this month I didn’t go to Internet Librarian or most of NELA, and a few smaller conferences. It was fun to read other people’s summaries, and occasionally real-time reactions, for all the presentations. I’ll be making a sort of “what I learned from not going to conferences” post sometime in the next few days. For now, I’m done with public speaking until March and I’m pretty okay with that. It’s been a fun Fall season.

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.

Tom Bruce’s plenary talk at Cornell, tech + librarianship + the Ivy League

Tom Bruce from Cornell’s Legal Information Institute talks about technologists being managed by non-technologists, and about the future of academic libraries in this thoughtful and amusing plenary talk.

In my experience, most of us don’t think about professions most of the time. We just get up and drag ass to work, whether we’re law teachers or opera singers or technologists or librarians or plumbers. We like to go to work if that is a place where our expertise is respected. And if we are not respected and we see ourselves as having little control over the very things for which we are held responsible, all of us get very, very unhappy. At the simplest level talk about professional models is nothing more and nothing less — on both sides — than displaced anxiety about where we stand in the workplace. Librarians have, for a long time, been able to draw some comfort and stability from trappings built up around the technology of print. That is going away. Technologists never had such a stable place to stand. And universities and law schools are particularly anxious workplaces now. So maybe we should spend less time debating professional models and concentrate on why it is that we need to talk about them so badly.

[thanks RepoRat]

Utica notes and slides

I gave a really fun talk in Utica, New York at the MidYork Library System lately. It was an overview of social tools [mainly how libraries are using Twitter and Facebook] with the added “how to make a widget” aspect that I think helps people envision real live things they could do with it. I used feed2js to make a new sidebar on librarian.net for New York Times Best Sellers, all right in front of them. Without doing anything more complicated than copying and pasting. I’m happy that all the “bla bla RSS” talking we’ve been doing is now meeting web tools like My Yahoo and Google reader [and other standalone products] so that people can really quickly and easily set up revolving content on their otherwise static websites.

You can see my notes and slides here. Success with Social Networking. Thanks very much to the nice people at Mid-York for setting up such a fun day.

while I was away – sxsw

So, I may have mentioned earlier that this is the month I’m away giving talks and talking to librarians instead of typing on my blogonet. I’m partway done. I’ve been to Florida and Alaska and Austin Texas and I’ll be stopping by Portland Oregon next week and then I’m pretty much done. I’ve done a few talks you’ve maybe heard before but the biggest news is the panel that NYPL’s Jenny Engstrom and I did at SXSW on Tuesday. It was called How The Other Half Lives: Touring The Digital Divide [link goes to our slides] and it was a look at how libraries are dealing with people on the other side of the digital divide.

Some of this is stuff you’ve heard before but some is newish. We were lucky enough to give our presentation after the FCC released the results of their broadband study but before they actually released their Broadband Plan, so there was a lot to talk about but not too much to fight about. The talk was well-attended, well-tweeted and folks asked a lot of questions and stuck around to talk more. I’ve just gotten back from Texas so I’ll save more links and discussions for a little later. Thanks to everyone who showed up and who supported us in our desire to get this talk on the roaster at SXSW. I think we gave people a lot of food for thought.