What I wanted to be when I grew up

There was an interesting thread on ALA Think Tank where people talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. I never wanted to be a librarian, though I liked the librarians that I knew. I wanted to be a writer though I wasn’t sure how you did that. I liked writing and I had the same name as a writer so I figured that would help. I was just digging through some old paperwork and I found my statement of professional concerns from when I ran for ALA Council. This is from 2002, so nearly 15 years ago

ala council statement

With the exception of the slightly over-the-top “family farms” aside, I still stand by this 100%, possibly even more now than I did then. And since then I’ve felt a lot more able to actually implement my ideas about the way the world of libraries and technology should work. I am very grateful that I work within a profession where I can be relevant and useful and effective in my late 40s and work with both older and younger members of my profession to create meaningful change. I even get to write a little as well. I’ve been updating my resume lately, not because I’m looking for work but just because it is a good thing to do, and will try to find a way to work this in there somewhere.

My Values Workshop for LLAMA’s Career Institute at ALA in Boston

What Matters? A Workshop for Developing & Articulating Our Values

I went to ALA for the first time in several years last week. I don’t think I’ve been to ALA since the Think Tank has been in existence. It was a great setup. Conference was in Boston. I was giving a pre-conference. Part of my deal was that I’d get registration for the conference, and one night in a fancy hotel (and some $). It worked out great. Usually, I admit, I dislike workshops. I don’t like to be in them and I barely know how to give them. However, my feelings on this are not normative, so I tried to bring my education and my experience to an afternoon workshop for about twenty people and have some useful exercises and activities as well as some good discussion. I think it went well. My main self-critique was that I had made sure I had three hours of “stuff” for a three hour workshop and maybe didn’t leave enough time for people to just talk to each other. More blank spaces next time. You can read through my slides as well as see the handouts and exercises (and the image credits) at this URL: https://www.librarian.net/talks/llama16/.

ALA had a conference app that encouraged you to upload your slides to the application so people could have them. Great idea in theory, but in reality I didn’t see any privacy policy and was a little leery of giving up my content so I uploaded a single slide with the URL to my actual slides. Hope people didn’t feel that it was too cheeky. A few other photos of my ALA trip are here. Thanks so much to everyone who came to the pre-conference and especially to LLAMA who invited me and took very good care of me. They were a joy to work with.

asking for what you want, getting what you want

banned books week poster before and after

This has been a heady National Library Week for many librarians I know and me in particular. There’s been a lot of online agita and, unlike the way these things usually go, some things wound up changing for the better. Here’s a list. Apologies if I link too much to facebooky stuff.

  1. Someone mentioned that they found Demco’s “Spanish” spine label a bit troublesome since it had a sombrero and a set of maracas (Mexican, not Spanish, and still stereotypical at that) and misspelled español (without the tilde). A few people complained to Demco. Demco listened, agreed, removed the items from their online store. Not all of their multicultural labels are perfect, but it was nice to be heard.
  2. ALA’s Banned Books Week poster which was put in the ALA Store this week got a lot of pushback. Does the woman look like she is wearing a niqab? What’s the poster trying to communicate? Andromeda spells out well what some of the issues with the poster are. People wrote to ALA. ALA listened. Took a while to respond. Came back with a few posts from the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom
    1. Statement on the 2015 Banned Books Week Poster
    2. How Do We Design a Banned Books Campaign
    3. Response Concerning the 2015 Banned Books Week

    I particularly found some of the crosstalk interesting about whether objecting to a marketing poster was in the same family as objecting to something being in the library collection. I know we can be a mouthy contentious bunch, but given that, some of this discussion seemed to take place on new ground and it was curious to me how much my years in the MetaFilter trenches has helped me manage these sorts of discussions.

  3. Daredevil is a great show on Netflix about a blind superhero which did not have any descriptive audio which many found ironic. People complained. The Accessible Netflix Project started a petition. Netflix fixed it.
  4. After my last post about SpaceX, I decided to expand it into an article for Medium which I did with some nice photos and a lot of linking. A few days later, Flickr actually added an option for users to have public domain and CC0 licenses on their photos. This is, to me, a HUGELY great outcome. I wrote another short article about this.
  5. On a more personal note, Jason Goldman wrote a post on Medium to talk about how he was going to become the new White House Chief Digital Officer. I left a comment on that article talking about how part of getting people involved in civic engagement is helping them to trust the online world (i.e. doing the opposite of everything Healthcare.gov has done). This comment got a nod in Goldman’s next article now that he’s taken office. I am very very pleased about this.
casual games

Bonus link the #journalofneutrallibrarianship hashtag is a pretty good time if you like Twitter. And I wrote a nerdy article about research and Wikipedia that I think you might enjoy if you haven’t seen me blabbing about it all over the place for the past few days.

How to lie with Wikipedia

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

StateLibQld_1_131955_Book_Depot_float,_Red_Cross_Procession,_Brisbane,_1944

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.