I kicked off my year of “Back doing talks” with giving the keynote talk at the METRO-NY’s annual conference. I was invited by Jason Kucsma who I know from way back in the day as one of the founders of Clamor Magazine, where I wrote an article about the USA PATRIOT Act in 2004. Jason is now the executive director of METRO-NY and we marveled at how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Clamor’s back issues are hosted at the Internet Archive. They also do Open Library which I’ve been volunteering for over the past year.
My talk was about the past eighteen months of fair use and other similar decisions that we’ve seen in the courts recently and talking about how now, more than ever, it’s a good time to start affirmatively and possibly aggressively sharing our cultural content. You can read the talk online here and see my notes.
One of my favorite things about going to conferences to speak is that I also get to go to listen. I went to three presentations and I had useful takeaways from all of them. This is what I learned.
- Beyond Digitization: Hacking Structured Data out of Historical Documents – this was a presentation by a few of the folks at NYPL labs discussing how their crowdsourced “help us structure the data in our theater program” project worked. Great demo, interesting talk. Big takeaway: data, raw data, needs to be “first class citizen” in libraries and be available like other materials. We have a lot of content that isn’t just in monograph/serial form, we should get it out there.
- Open Access is a Lot of Work!: How I Took a Journal Open Access and Lived to Tell About It – Emily Drabinski talked about how she got the Radical Teacher monograph into an open access model and how it was worth it but also a lot of work. Big takeaway: shifting the model to where you do more labor for the project instead of just paying more for it can be useful in not just bottom-line cash ways.
- Transforming Computer Training Services @ Your Library – Brandy McNeil at NYPL has turned their tech training program into a big, polished, smoothly working system. This is partly because of funding but in many ways it’s because of the buy-in she was able to get and the collaborations that she did with many other people (branch managers, marketers, IT people, etc) and she outlined how that worked and why it was worth it. Big takeaway: centralizing services and having a consistently branded approach can be very useful in a situation where you have 80+ sites and three languages and countless people and spaces to work with.
Here are previous year end lists: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. My always-updated booklist lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.
Number of books read in 2013: 50
average read per month: 4.17
average read per week: 1.04
number read in worst month: 1 (April)
number read in best month: 7 (Jan/Dec)
percentage by male authors: 76
percentage by female authors: 24
percentage of authors of color: 4?
fiction as percentage of total: 54
non-fiction as percentage of total: 46
percentage of total liked: 90
percentage of total ambivalent: 8
percentage of total disliked: 2
Some of the same patterns as last year. I didn’t travel as much and I think this means I read a bit less. I binge-read the His Dark Materials books and read every book by Brad Meltzer. The Kindle lets me plow through sort of simple fiction and humor stuff, but I’m still not really using it for non-fiction or tougher books. In looking at my to-read pile from February (above), I’m realizing I have a pile of books someplace in my house that has some of these books on it (the Miss Manners book and the RV book in particular) that I must have moved when I spruced up my bedroom. Graphic novels continue to entertain me but it’s getting harder and harder to find new long ones that I like. I still use paperbackswap.com for random serendipity–things come in from my wish list occasionally and I’m never expecting them–and to get rid of older books I just don’t need to have around.
This year I’m going to try to actively read more books by women, more books by authors of color, more non-European authors and more books that fall under the general GLBTQ umbrella. It’s too easy to fall into grabbing the most available titles and these have a tendency to reflect the mainstream. No big deal, and I read some good books, but I’d like to expand my range. It’s good to have goals.
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. Hereâ€™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.