presenting, computers, tech battles

I’m really happy that David had a good time at my talk at TLA. I’m glad I can get a message across that’s not just “Here’s why you should think exactly like I do.” I went a different direction with my talk this time and used images almost exclusively and then just sort of talked around them. This minimized the “Let me read you my slides” effect and also made me more comfortable ad-libbing somewhat. I’ll try to do this more in the future.

Apropos of this is The May issue of Info Career Trends (I like the text version since it’s all on one page, read the current issue in HTML here) which has lots of articles about being a good speaker and presenter, coming at the same topic from slightly differing perspectives. One of the things I enjoy about the library profession generally is the opportunity to not only give presentations for other librarians, but also to hear other librarians present. I’ve known Jenny and Michael for years and have never seen them present together. I enjoyed their presentation even though it was on a topic that I already know a fair amount about; they’re solid, engaging presenters and a good team with complementary personalities.

Rachel from LISJobs also has a blog, The Liminal Librarian, that many others have already mentioned. I’ve been reading it for a few weeks now, but particularly liked her most recent post on geeks vs. nerds which was a response to an article Rory wrote recently (more further reading in this post).

I don’t see the profession as having a huge schism, but I do see it as spawning many new and necessary sub-specialties. We’ve seen the rise of the YA librarians in the past decade, and the rise of the tech librarians is not particularly different. In some ways I think the view of the schism is a result of the dearth of print materials and the multivariate nature of tech questions and tech issues generally. If you’re refinishing a bureau, you can find a book that will tell you how to do it. The same is not at all true if you’re signing up for an email account, making an airline reservation online, or trying to print a weird-sized pdf. As libraries make their decisions to provide public access computing, they need to deal with the predictable outcomes. What happens when we offer people computers that they don’t know how to use? Or, going back to the USB drive question on web4lib, what happens when we offer people computers that don’t work like their own computers?

Jenny has a series of posts from Patron Day at Ann Arbor District Library and one little quote stood out in her recounting of Ed “Superpatron” Vielmetti’s presentation: “a friend of his said [the library] is the only place I know of where the computer is less functional with the library catalog than it is at home!” One thing about being in what John Blyberg describes as a “tech depressed” area is that I know the same is not true for many of the teeny libraries that I work with, but still, shoudln’t we be aiming higher?

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