I gave my first talk in person to librarians since 2019 this week. I’d been traveling less for climate change reasons but also for “sort of tired of it” reasons before Covid hit. I’d done two talk to non-library groups–one about Fair Use for lawyers and one about Libraries of Things for recreation department workers–but NELA was my first library talk. NELA is always one of my favorite conferences. Good group of people, I have no governance/admin role, interesting programs. I’m also nearly always able to drive there.
This time I was able to check out the reports from the New England state librarians (mine was home sick, but Massachusetts seems like they’re doing great things), see Robin Bradford talk about romance novels (so informative), learn what Simsbury (CT) is doing for DEI programming, and then give my talk. The room was big and it wasn’t super full but I enjoyed it and I think my part of it went pretty well. It was basically the Fair Use talk, rejiggered to be relevant to library workers. You can read that talk here. I drove home same day which may have been a stretch since it’s over two hours each way; it’s been a long time since I was at a big event with library people, in person. I miss it.
The other big milestone was that I submitted my last column for Computers in Libraries. I’ve been writing this column either on my own or with other people for fifteen years. Since I’ve started my new gig at the Flickr Foundation I’ve had less time for all of my other paid and unpaid work and I’ve been gradually trimming back. I’ve loved working with the folks at Information Today, my editor Dick Kaser especially, but a nearly-monthly deadline was starting to feel like a lot. I loved the work I did there, even if you can’t find most of it on their website. I’d like to get back to my newsletter.
Next up will probably be pulling back a bit from ALA. I’ve been a Chapter Councilor for a long time. It’s a large commitment and I’m getting more okay with my status as someone who prefers to stay a bit closer to home for my professional development. ALA continues to be an organization that hasn’t entirely embraced virtual ways of working. My work with VLA continues to be pretty fulfilling and I intend to keep that up.
This article was originally published in Computers in Libraries magazine in 2017. Some of the advice may be out of date.
Practical Technology – Your Digital Life After You
by Jessamyn West
More and more, our lives are lived online. When my father died six years ago, we were pleased to find a Google Document with the usernames and passwords to every account he ?owned?. He was an engineer and so this was not terribly surprising. Most of these accounts were things like bank account?s and cable subscriptions, but a few were email accounts and (small) social media profiles. This made a complicated time much simpler.
What if we hadn’t been able to access his information? Jan Zastrow has written a great article on digital estate planning which mentioned some of these ideas. Here are some specific tech tools you can use to help you archive and prepare your legacy on social media sites and content repositories.
Continue reading “CIL reprint: Your Digital Life After You”
I’ve had my head down and have been staying home for the most part, no news here. A pleasant surprise is that there’s been work, talks to give, things to write about. Also: a lot of Wikipedia work. I did a presentation for the Vermont Humanities Council, an organization which I love but will also love to be cycling off of the Board of Directors of, about what Vermont libraries have been up to this past… year. I’ve excerpted it for an upcoming Computers in Libraries article, but as I was updating my talks page, I thought I should maybe mention it special here. If you’d like to read it or watch me giving it, you can go to this page here: Public Libraries in the time of COVID.
One of my favorite things about writing for Computers in Libraries is that I now get a subscription to the magazine. All the blogs and RSS feeds and tweets in the world are really no match for being able to read “how to” stories from people working in totally different libraries than me. I feel like I pretty much get the issues involved with running rural, pre-OPAC, barely-online libraries and I hope I do a decent job showcasing them here to at least give people an idea of what’s involved and what’s at stake. However, I have never worked in a library with a self checkout system or a DVD service machine, or even a digital audiobook collection (though we’re working on one!). It’s a bit of a shame that most of CiL’s articles are locked behind a subscriber wall, but here’s a decent article about a library that is almost local to me and their experiences with their first self-checkout system.
My contract with CiL allows me to self-publish after ninety days which is what I intend to do if I remember. My first column/department about web stats came out in January and my most recent one about open source software will be out next month. In the meantime here is a tip I wish I’d known sooner… I recently set up one of my libraries with a tiny website for free. Dreamhost.com offers free webspace to qualifying nonprofits. This is real webspace with one-click installs for things like Mediawiki and WordPress. If you have a 501c3 exemption letter and a little bit of patience, take a look at their wiki to get the rest of the details. A little more information is available on the Drupal site. I know people have had good and bad experiences with Dreamhost, but sometimes selling people on trying something new — and for my library a website was definitely something new — is all about removing as many barriers as possible and letting them see the utility in it themselves. If you’ve been waffling about webspace, or webspace costs, try it out. I have no affiliation to Dreamhost, for what it’s worth.
If you’re at ALA you may have already seen this issue of Computers in Libraries. If not, you may be interested to know that I’m going to be co-editing (well alternating writing) the Tech Tips Column with Rachel Singer Gordon.
It’s hard for wordy old me to give advice in 1300 words but I do my best and even include a screenshot or two. I have the right to post my columns ninety days after they’re published in print so they’ll show up here eventually as well. The January issue has my advice on how to examine your web logs to figure out how, when and where users are accessing your website. The column I put to bed just today (I guess technically it’s a department, Dan Chudnov, now he has a column) due out in March is about Open Source software. I’m a little sad to see my favorite editor, Kathy Dempsey, move on to bigger and better things and I’m a little nervous about getting edited again, but so far it’s been great and just another way to get the word out.