hi – 01apr

I know that a lot of my postings have been about technology lately, even though I work in a library. I have two things to say about that.

One, I will not be working in a library after next week. My contract is up and I have tentatively been offered a community technology mentor job in the next town over. I’ll let you know more as I know more, but basically it invovles teaching email to older people, which is all I really wanted to do for a while anyhow. It’s an AmeriCorps position which means it barely pays. It’s temporary which means I can still go to Australia next year. And, it’s in the next town which means commuting drops from 180 miles a week to more like 50.

Two, we all know libraries are changing. The library workforce is changing and the nature of the job is changing. The more librarians know the lingo of the new tech world of fee-for-service models instead of you-bought-it-you-own-it models of yore, the better we will be able to advocate for our patrons to provide the best service for them and the best return for their investment in us. You don’t have to live on IM to understand why IM might be a good alternative to 24/7 ref. You don’t have to check your email 100 times a day to know why email is a good way to increase patron contact options. You don’t have to podcast to understand why podcasts are an interesting and homegrown alternative to increasingly centralized and depersonalized audio content.

In the same way we don’t all have to be graphic novel fans to select them and realize their value for our patrons, we don’t all have to become cyborgs to realize the value of technology to our patrons, and the way technology can change lives, whether people access it in libraries or not. I’ll be presenting a lot of ideas librarians should, in my opinion, be learning about not as a way to say “Hey dork, if you don’t know about this you’re falling behind!” or even “All libraries should have this!” but as a way to say “When the time comes for you to decide if your library needs this, and that time will come, here are the things you’ll need to help you make that decision.” Smart librarians make smart choices and I’d like to help all of you get smart, no foolin’.

tech for small libraries?

The Librarian in Black points to an article on WebJunction called “Technology Watch List for Small Libraries” and I have to say that I am also unimpressed. The difference between reading blogs and RSS feeds and creating blogs and RSS feeds is substantial, as is the difference between employing a thin-client solution to the centralized server problem and just learning how to do ghosting effectively. Ebooks are not a good solution for cash-poor libraries [which is what I hear when I hear "small libraries" though maybe this is geared towards small rich suburban libraries] and when I think “cost effective” for virtual reference, I think IM — which isn’t even mentioned — not joining a consortium. In short, this article seems to be more effectively titled “shopping tips for small libraries” because by and large it is much more geared towards things to buy than things to learn.

be prepared for anything when you present.

Andrea’s at CiL and has some tips for presenters that are right on the money. I went to show off one of our library databases at an elementary school yesterday. Everything was fine until we got to the database login page. For some reason IE wouldn’t let us in, the tech guy had gone home, and no one else knew if there was a firewall or virus software on the machine. Fortunately, I had brought all the screenshots of the database that I had used when I was demonstrating it on public access TV. Oddly, the demonstration search I had used for the TV show just happened to be the same as the name of the town I was in. I walked away from that talk looking well-prepared and smart instead of tech-clueless and frustrated. And that IE problem we were having? We switched to Safari as an afterthought when I was on my way out, and we logged in to the database no problem, vexing!