I am, like many librarians, sort of a crabby nitpicker about some things. I think there are optimal ways to do things, particularly with technology. I have, over the past 20+ years of helping people, gotten better at working with people to reach their own good place with how they want technology to work for them. I only talk “optimizing” if someone asks. They rarely ask. This is fine. Working on my anxiety levels has also helped with this somewhat.
I visit libraries like it is my job. I always like a nice public place where I can sit and read or work among other people and not have to buy anything. I like getting ideas by looking at hundreds of books or flipping through magazines. Last night I was at the Tiverton Public Library which is just a few miles from my dad’s place in Massachusetts. They were having a speaker talk about Lizzie Borden. Fun! I found it via the Facebook “events near me” feature which I have never tried before since IN Vermont you usually get … nothing.
The author, Rich Little (above), a math teacher at a local community college, had written a book called Cold Case to Case Closed, Lizbeth Borden, My Story. Fall River is right up the road and the place was PACKED with people, many of whom had a lot of knowledge about the case, some of which conflicted with the speaker’s. It was an entertaining 90 minutes learning more about the Bordens and about Fall River at that time.
Mister Little used large blown-up images of the key players and I immediately thought “Uh oh, no slides?” but it turned out it worked pretty well in the packed room and we could all focus more on what he was saying. He was even pretty deft in dealing with the people in the audience who were pretty set against his interpretation of events (which seemed to be the vibe I got from the Lizzie Borden Society members reviews). I was pleased that I’d overcome my initial concerns to enjoy this great library program.
One weird part, however, was RSVPing for the event. They asked you to call and RSVP. Not usually my communication preference but okay. I left my name, spelling it, and phone number with the library. When I arrived that evening the entire list of names and numbers (with mine written JAZMYN WEST) was on a clipboard in the front lobby on an unstaffed table. While I am pretty good at my “this is a thing on which reasonable people disagree” stance, I think this is a library privacy gaffe. At the same time, I don’t want my only feedback on this otherwise superb event to be “I felt weird that you left my phone number out in public.” so I decided to write all of this out.
I’m a firm believer of eating your own dog food. Meaning if you say stuff about libraries (and I do), then make sure you go to them as if going to them was your JOB (and I do). Don’t just go to the one library where your job is, though that helps.
Every year I make a list. Every year I reflect on that list. This year I went to forty-five libraries in nine states and one non-US country. Eighty-six library visits total. Many more different libraries than last year, but just a few more visits overall. With all this, I only added two new libraries to my Vermont 183 project even as I hand out awards to people who have been to over 190 libraries in Vermont!
Seven years in a row I’ve been keeping this up. Previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003
Libraries I went to more than once include.
- Kimball (VT) – my local and one of the best libraries in my opinion.
- Hartness (VT) – my local academic, bigger collection and longer hours but further away
- Westport (MA) – my summer local, don’t love it but do use it
- Tiverton (RI) – the library in the summer that I go to more often even if I can’t check out books
- Carney/Dartmouth (MA) – local academic, another great library, well-loved, well-used
- Harvard Law Library (MA) – where my fellowship is and where I can go work
- New Bedford (MA) – used to be a museum, I take guests here
- Hookset (NH) – here for work, twice, always enjoy it
Libraries I only went to once
- Gutman (Harvard) – part of an attempt to go to all Harvard’s libraries
- Winooski (VT) – doing some Passport work here
- Oak Lawn IL – stopped & checked email on our #WestOn20 trip
- Library of Congress (DC) – always a favorite
- Stowe Free (VT) – participated in a panel for their anniversary
- Newton (MA) – stopped to chill after a long ALA week
- URI/Carrothers (RI) – gave a talk, visited friends
- Claremont/Berkeley (CA) – hid out avoiding a kid birthday party
- Southworth/Dartmouth (MA) – great place to work, lovely art
- British Library (UK) – got to take my sister to this great place
- VT Law Library – MontP (VT) – a farewell to a colleague
- Lamont (Harvard) – so stoked to finally get in here!
- Aldrich/Barre (VT) – visiting a friend doing some visioning
- Belchertown (MA) – what a gem! stopped by on the way home from friends’
- MIT/Hayden (MA) – what a treat after Harvard’s closed system
- Ames/Easton (MA) – stopped in before a wedding next door
- Former War Library (DC) – this is basically IN THE WHITE HOUSE, omg
- Harold Johnson Library, Hampshire (MA) – my alma mater
- Montpelier (VT) – stopping in before seeing a friend
- Goddard (VT) – was on the radio!
- Brown/Northfield (VT) – passport wrap-up
- Cambridge/Central Branch (MA) – can’t even remember this visit but I am sure I liked it
- Boston Public (MA) – saw my friend Tom, got a cool tour
- Schlesinger/Harvard – saw my friend Jen, got a cool tour
- Lewisham (UK) – a great neighborhood library
- Watson Retreat Center (NY) – a funky special library
- Internet Archive (CA) – they say they are a library, so they are
- Girard (PA) – a round library, part of #WestOn20
- Caird Library (UK) – at the Naitonal Maritime Museum, not as friendly as I’d hoped
- Howe/Hanover (NH) – always a favorite
- MLK Branch (DC) – saw movies about black history and drank it in
- Weissman/Harvard – a rare open house, I was not allowed to take photos
- Cazenovia (NY) – a mummy!
- Manor House (UK) – a library having hard times but doing ok
- Fairfield/Millicent (MA) – another great library to take friends to
- BU (MA) – gave a talk, stuck around to see the basement
- Pollard/Lowell – a great old classic library
I’ve had an average of 80-ish visits per year for a few years now so I think that is my new normal. So a library every five days. A new library every eight days. Maybe when I hit ten years I’ll do a decade long wrap up. I wish this data was all in standard form….
I am very thankful my work takes me to all of these lovely places. Thanks to the librarians who graciously showed me around.
I had a great time at the Hooksett (NH) Library talking with the Merri-Hill-Rock Coop about library stuff on Wednesday. Cab Vinton from the Plaistow Library asked me what I’d like to do. I decided to break out of my normal “Here are some slides, let me talk about them…” routine and do something a little different. So I spoke for maybe 25 minutes about some Big Ideas I had for library services and then Cab and I spoke together and took questions about actual practical ways library workers could maybe work towards some of those ideals.
It was a really constructive 90 minutes or so with a bunch of creative librarians who come from smaller libraries and are always doing more with less. We spoke specifically about trying to do things to make our buildings more available, lend and share more digital content, and getting outside our buildings somewhat. I stressed the point that sometimes you can’t change a thing immediately but you can advocate for that idea and support others who are able to make material changes. Having the library’s support for a thing is more useful and important than I think we sometimes appreciate. People trust us and care what we have to say.
Here are my slides (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).
Again with the library tracking! This is now six years in a row. Previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003
I went to twenty-two different libraries in seven states and one non-US country for eighty-two visits total. Did not intend this but it’s the same number of visits (though many fewer individual libraries) as last year. A few things influenced this: I did a lot less distance traveling this year but did a lot of work in local libraries, I also taught at a college where the library was a major hangout for me (thanks VTC Librarians, you are the best) and I worked a lot at my local public library. Hereâ€™s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year.
- Kimball Library – my local public library, I work here and I am a patron here
- Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here and I worked at VTC this year
- Carney Library UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time (still!)
- Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning and visiting my friend Virgil
- Westport MA – the library where I summer, trying to warm up to this library
- Fletcher/Burlington VT – did consulting here this year and spent more time here
- Canada Water UK – the closest public library to where my sister and I stayed in the UK, nice busy library
- Cranston RI – visiting my friend ed, great renovations!
- Springfield MA – did some work on the way to CT, neat building with a weird vibe
- Cary Library, Lexington MA – did a talk earlier in the year, really nice place and great people
- Tiverton RI Main Branch – lovely new building across from the Sip n Dip, great to see it!
- RUHS Library – high school library in my town
- Bangor ME – a neat classic library which is getting renovated
- Greensboro VT – the quintessential Vermont library
- Roxbury VT – taught an ipad class and saw how it’s been growing and changing
- East Granby CT – killing time bfore a CT talk, this was a great place to get some R&R
- Pasadena CA – there was a fancy event here for CLA and we had a nice time hanging out and talking to people in the theater.
- Bethel VT – another place I taught an iPad class
- Springfield NH – did some consulting for a library having growing pain challenges as they make decisions on whether to automate or not
- Kellogg-Hubbard VT – went to a slide show given by a friend of mine, great to be here again.
- Norwich University, Northfield VT – sropped by and saw their renovations and excellent art exhibits.
- Orono ME – a pretty and small library
The bigger deal was really the Passport to Vermont Libraries project, a summer program put on by VLA which got hundreds of Vermonters visiting their local libraries and getting passport stamps and other fun adventures. I worked on this with a team of a few other people and it was a very successful program and I think a chunk of that was all of our enthusiasm for our library visits. So I didn’t get my further in my personal project, but professionally I helped get this idea to take off. If you just like library photos, I have more on Flickr.
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. Hereâ€™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.