2015 in libraries

a pie chart of the libraries I've visited in 2015

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. Here’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.

2014 in libraries

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 16.22.46

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. Here’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.

data-driven strategizing for tiny libraries

I really need to upgrade this version of WordPress but I only remember when I am making a post and so I am busy. I did take the time, with other VLA members (Heidi! Helen! Sarah!) of redesigning the Vermont Library Association website. It was a great project, still a little bit in process, but I learned a lot more about responsive design and working with a team of engaged and interested people. Last weekend I went to Lexington MA to speak at the Cary Public Library. Not my usual routine, I was a guest speaker at a brunch talking about blogs. No slides, just talking. I talked about the history of this blog–15 years old this month–and other things I’ve done as a blogger. It went well. You can read the talk here: Blogs, Blogging and Bloggers. Scroll to the end to read a list of good book/reading blogs I put together. Ah, blogs!

Cutler library stats

This past weekend I went to a strategic planning retreat for one of the local small public libraries. They are in the unenviable position of needing to make some changes without really having the cash or the staffing to do those changes. The head of the board asked if I’d come in and talk about… making tough decsions, what other libraries are doing, that sort of thing. I came in to talk a little bit about Libraries I Have Known and spent about 45 minutes with a combination of local library anecdotes (I got a million of ’em) and some data-driven talk.

The Vermont Department of Libraries puts out a terrific Giant Spreadsheet every year with a lot of information about all of Vermont’s libraries. I’ve talked about it before. However, it’s more data than most people want to deal with, which is perfectly okay. I took the giant spreadsheet and used some Excel filtering and added some averages and summaries and was able to create a much more modest spreadsheet which basically said “Show us how we’re doing compared to other libraries our size” For this project, I took all the libraries that had within 400 people population-wise and found the most salient information about those libraries (budget, circ, per capita funding, programming &c.) and then highlighted where this library fell on the matrix for these values. It didn’t take long, but it was fiddly work. At the end of it I think I had a really useful one-sheet for the board (above) and a few smaller spreadsheets so they could see where the numbers came from. It was fun. I’d love to do it for more libraries. I work in-state for pizza and Fresca (and mileage if I have to schlep someplace). Look me up.

2013 in libraries

Daytum Wrap up of 2013 in libraries

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. I have also done this in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. Ten years ago I did a short list of library visits where I actually reviwed the places I’d been. Ah to have that much free time!

I went to thirty-eight different libraries in eleven states for fifty-six visits total. Just a little more than last year. I’m sure I have forgotten some. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are the same as every year: my local public, my local academic and my summer local. All great places.

  • Hartness/Randolph VT – have not been here so much in the latter part of 2012, but this is still one of my favorite academic libraries.
  • Kimball VT – my local, I don’t work here as much but still go here all the time.
  • Westport MA – summer library, good for DVDs and other vacation-style stuff.
  • Plymouth State NH – gave a talk, saw the library. A neat looking place, with a cool clock in the entryway.
  • JoCo – Desoto KS – a tiny town with a great library where I checked my email while there was a rainstorm.
  • Ashtabula Public OH – stopped by on a road trip and saw a lot of people with fishing poles. A quirky big library.
  • St. Johnsbury VT – was here for the Hug the Library event during the unpleasantness.
  • Minneapolis MN – hadn’t been here since the redesign. Enjoyed its shininess.
  • Natick/Morse MA – killing time between friends and dinner, this was a great place to hang out.
  • JoCo – Lackman KS – said hello to Josh Neff here!
  • Beloit Public WI – lovely library, stopped in on a road trip and enjoyed myself. Fancy and shiny and new.
  • St Paul MN – met a really nice librarian who told me some great history of the place.
  • Harwood HS, Duxbury VT – my friend Meghan works here, stopped by the say hello.
  • Manhattan KS – the public library when I was in town to hang out with my friend Donna.
  • Beebe/Wakefield MA – such a neat place with a great bee-themed marketing campaign.
  • Giamatti research center NY – Baseball Hall of Fame! My friend Paul worked as an intern, was fun to look through scrapbooks.
  • KState KS – Donna gave me the grand tour and we got to see the basement.
  • Nebraska Library Commission NE – said hi to the terrific Michael Sauers and gave a talk here.
  • Brookfield VT – first time in a tiny library so close to home.
  • Omaha Public NE – big and beautiful and got to meet the woman who does programming there.
  • Roxbury VT – another favorite one-room library, haven’t been there since they got a bathroom installed.
  • Somerville MA – killing time before the movies, this library is always busy and has a lot going on.
  • KANEKO-UNO Library NE – an arty, somewhat private library, we took a brief look around. Very cool space & collection.
  • Brown/Northfield VT – lovely merging of old and new buildings.
  • Chelmsford MA – saying hi to Brian!
  • Boston Public MA – a nice place to chill on a chilly Boston day.
  • Providence RI – Surprised I hadn’t been here before. Neat old building, oddly underused, it seemed.
  • Lawrence KS – in an old Borders building while they renovated. Quite busy.
  • Windsor VT – checking out the seed library, great photos of local residents.
  • Hartland VT – stopping by because I was in Windsor, before Amy got there, I think.
  • New Bedford Pl MA – amazing building and we got to peek at some of the artwork they were restoring.
  • Topeka/Shawnee KS – a great tour by David Lee King, consummate friend to librarians everywhere.
  • Lincoln Public NE – stopped in before dinner with Michael, busy and overtaxed.
  • Merriam Park – St Paul MN – smaller neat suburban library.
  • Union/Tiverton RI – so cute, so small! Librarian so friendly!
  • Ashland NE – stopped by when I was on a drive. Neat old building, soon to be renovated, amazingly friendly and helpful librarian.
  • Carney/Dartmouth MA – gosh I love this weird place and I want to go back there all the time.
  • Monmouth/Manalapam NJ – doesn’t look like much from the outside but has a lot going on.

I had such a good time visiting all of these places. I can get sort of schmaltzy sometimes but I think the public library system in the US is a truly terrific thing. Here’s to another great year of library visits.

elbow grease and geocoding – making a map of Vermont’s public libraries

The really great thing about nearly any computer problem you might have is that it’s very unlikely that you are the first person to have it. So if you have access to the internet and Google (to get you to other online help sources like Stack Exchange and other random app sites) you can find a way to do what you want to do, often.

I am working on a long term project. I am trying to visit all of Vermont’s 183 libraries. One of the things I will need to do to get started on that project is to make a map. The Vermont Department of Libraries makes the location of most of these libraries available in an Excel spreadsheet (thanks!) I just needed to figure out how to make that spreadsheet into a map. I toyed around with the Vermont Center for Geographic information but was having trouble making a CSV file that would satisfy Silverlight’s obscure criteria. And then I found a site that would generate a KML file (for Google Earth/Maps) from a CSV file. And again, I was close, but couldn’t quite get it to work. Googling further I found this impressive site, BatchGeo, which basically says “Hey click here and paste your data and we’ll make our best guess as to how it works and then draw you a map!” I had decently clean data. I clicked and pasted, and this was the result.

View Vermont’s Public Libraries in a full screen map

Oddly, the same data file pasted in to Google winds up looking not quite so clean thanks to quirky handling of ampersands and the non-standard address format of the original data file. But who cares, all I needed was one map. 183 libraries (the most per capita of any state in the US) here I come! You can read more about Vermont’s libraries in this report by the Department of Libraries.