I am always at a loss when I do things called “workshops” and people don’t have computers. Replicating the 2.0 world [or heck even the 1.0 world] using pens and flip charts seems a little silly, but I’m generally a tough one to please when dealing with participatory talks/events. I don’t mind interacting, but I like to think it will be worth my while and not embarass me. I like Andrea’s Blog Her “speed dating” idea. Gets everyone moving, a little, doesn’t embarass them, makes them think.

If it were my workshop I think I’d have everyone be in two lines and person #1 would say “I work at [$NAME_OF_LIBRARY]” person #2 would say “I know [$THING_I_KNOW] about [$NAME_OF_LIBRARY]” and then they’d move on, 60 seconds, bang. Point being, I think we sometimes have a hard time understanding what our institutions look like to people from outside them and from the outside it can be tough to know what things look like on the inside. I was showing off some Kansas libraries using Twitter this week and naming one library sent a few people in the audience into giggles. I had no idea why. They explained later that it was because of some recent drama concerning the library and the local consortia that I would have had no way of knowing about. Knowing about it was actually a neat thing, more stories, more data.

If anyone’s been in a workshop with an activity — offline if possible though online is fine — that you’ve really liked, please feel free to share in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.

usability and a weekend report

I got back Monday night from a weekend which included ROFLcon and a talk at the Central MA Regional Library System. It was fun getting to do both. ROFLcon is sort of a laugh a minute and the CMRLS talk was particularly gratifying because the people in the audience (who had driven through a DELUGE to get there) were engaged and interesting and brought a lot to the table. CMRLS is also the system for my hometown library in Boxborough, so I enjoyed getting to see their tag for the boxes of materials that went to the library from the regional sorting facility. My talk notes are here

Tiny Tech/High Tech – How Small Libraries Can Use Technology Sensibly

This post is a day or two late because I already wrote this post yesterday, but due to some confusion about how to differentiate between a draft and an actual published post in WordPress 2.5 I managed to delete it before it went live. This is entirely my own fault and yet the interface to the new WordPress [if you haven’t upgraded, do so quicklike] is different enough that it makes certain parts of WordPress operate differently. This, in turn, changes my user behavior because my muscle memory wants to click certain places and look for certain visual cues for things. And again, when I’m wrassling with confusing interfaces — and this one is mostly that way because it’s new and I’m not used to it — my thoughts turn to the OPAC and the small wonder that people even come to our libraries at all sometimes when we make our materials so difficult to retrieve, sometimes.

In any case ROFLcon was a good time not just because it was fun and I got to see my boss Matt Haughey speak on a panel but also because there were a lot of librarians there. It was a pretty small conference but in addition to Casey Bisson who took some great photos, I also got to meet Wikipedian librarian Phoebe Ayers and Nathan from Shushing Action as well as some Simmons library students and just a few people who were like “You’re a librarian, that’s SO COOL!” It’s always gratifying to be somewhere where the nerd and librarian forces are strong.

bring your favorite mug or water bottle to ALA

I’m not going to ALA. As I mentioned before, I’m not a member and Philadelphia in January is not my idea of a good time. However, I do stay in touch with many ALA-ers and Monika Antonelli brought this Task Force of the Environment Campaign “Cup by Cup for a Greener ALA” It’s very very simple

  1. Bring a reusable cup to Midwinter
  2. Fill it with a favorite beverage
  3. Raise your cup and tell colleagues how you are helping the planet
  4. Drink, repeat & support TFOE-SRRT efforts toward a sustainable ALA.

One of the things that is distressing about having these big destination events is the huge amounts of waste that are generated. Council alone prints up tons of paper documents that were already distributed electronically, many of which are recycled (hopefully) or thrown out (likely) right after the meeting.

Even conscientious librarians who might bring their meals if they were just going to work wind up buying bottled water and packaged snacks because they’re trapped in the wasteland that is vast convention centers. Spend a little bit of time beforehand this year and try to pack a travel mug, a few powerbars or some fruit, your own pen and notebook, and maybe some teabags or Emergen-C that can keep you from spending time, money and resources just keeping yourself fed, hydrated and in prime note taking shape. Enjoy yourselves.

Going to Access 2007?

Hi. I have an odd request. I’m going to be speaking at the Access 2007 conference in Victoria BC on October 11th. I’m really looking forward to it. However, travelling there involves going from Tinytown USA to Tinytown Canada which means two small airports which means two long (or expensive, or both) trips. If anyone is driving to Access and heading either through Vancouver BC or Seattle WA on their way there and wouldn’t mind giving me a ride to the conference — I speak on the morning of the 11th, pretty flexible otherwise — I’d be happy to chip in for gas, share my hotel room if it’s logistically possible, or otherwise make it a non-sucky experience for you in the interests of saving the conference promoters money and me some time. Drop a note in the comments or find me in the usual places. I’ll be buying tickets sometime this week. Thanks.