how to be so-called famous

Karen Schneider has a great post that is just now crossing my radar because I’ve been ignoring my RSS feed for a while and spending more time cooking. It’s called How To Be Famous and there are two things I like about it a great deal.

First, when I scanned it the first time I was like “Oh this was great but she forgot…” and then on a second read I realized she didn’t forget a thing, at least as I see things. Second, she wrote this list so I don’t have to. People in libraryland ask me what I do or did to travel and speak like I do — less than most but more than many others — and I let them in on my little pair of secrets which is 1) you have to want to do it to be able to do it, which already rules out a ton of people with other obligations or who just hate travel, public speaking or, frankly, other people. 2) I can manage to do what I do because I live a very small and simple life in rural Vermont with no pets or children and only a few peaked looking houseplants. The town rolls up the sidewalks at eight and most evenings I noodle away working. I am lucky to have a job, or a few jobs, that are flexible enough to allow me to travel and I’m equally fortunate to actually enjoy schlepping around and meeting other people.

The most important things I would point to on Karen’s list are these. The importance of taking care of yourself or as she says “pace yourself.” Not only are you no good to anyone if you haven’t gotten enough sleep or down-time, but being continually on-the-road exhausted is a lifestyle problem at some level. If you’re a brain surgeon, this may not be true. If you’re a librarian, it definitely is. Also, I believe strongly in helping up-and-comers and mentoring people newer to the profession or even people just considering the profession. People were there to answer my million questions when I was an early WLA and ALA member, I figure I can do the same for early bloggers and facebookers and whoever. Time and effort you invest in other people, for the most part, is time and effort well-invested.

a few remaindered links on a variety of topics

I keep things unread in my newsreader when I want to refer to them later. Unfortuntely the “Mark as Unread” option in the menu of NetNewsWire is right next to “Mark All as Read” so I’d like to share these with you, before disaster strikes.

  • Andrea Mercado’s post Hacking Firefox: customizations for my library tells you all you need to know about why Firefox is such an excellent choice for a library browser. She discusses how to make the browser on their public access machines versatile yet secure. Very nice.
  • Laura Crossett taks about how to keep it real in small town American libraries. “We don’t beat Google by trying to best Google. We beat Google by being the thing–the things, really–that Google can never be.”
  • Fiona Bradley and Karen Schenider and Meredith Farkas all talk about ALAs obtuseness regarding “virtual participation” It’s a bit of a misnomer since people can, in some ways, participate virtually. However, they just can’t vote, attend Council meetings or do a lot of the other things that woud hve an impact. So they can participate virtually, sort of, just not significantly. I wish I didn’t have this icky feeling that this resistance to virtual participation was not just plain old technophobia on ALAs part but the actual desire to get more money into ALAs coffers via the Midwinter meeting. When that money is coming from librarians like Meredith and Laura and Karen and maybe even myself who would love to participate more, just at a somewhat lower cost, it rankles. I have really enjoyed my ALA vacation.
  • I explain the word “default” to my sudents often. To people new with computers, the ideas of the comptuers default settings is a little perplexing. Fred Stutzman highlights part of David Weinberger’s post about Facebook where he discusses how Facebook’s default privacy settings are all wrong. Completely and totally wrong. Don’t miss one of Fred’s earlier posts where he discusses how to turn the Facebook Beacon off to stop it from telling marketers more about you than you may be aware of.

The well-rounded librarian

I sometimes feel that people look at me and my laptop and my typa-typa routine and think I don’t have another life outside of computers. This can be the good news — when they need a computer expert, I’m there — but also the bad news because my life is deeper than just computers and libraries. In fact, I’m certain that’s true for all of us.

Just recently I was delighted to read Karen Schneider’s piece that was in Nerve. I heard about it on Twitter, but she also talks about it on her own blog. It’s called Range of Desire and it’s about guns and sex. It’s great. If you like Karen’s bloggish writings you’ll love it when she’s less (or differently) constrained by form and gets to tell a long story. Karen used to be in the Air Force; it’s part of who she is. Similarly the librarian I worked with today is married to a farmer and I saw her carrying around a bag of maple syrup containers. For my own part, I have a sculpture/welding background back before library school, and a huge coin collection in the attic.

One of the things I like so much about meeting other librarians online or elsewhere is a chance to get to see a bunch of other parts of them, not just their “work faces.” I think it helps the whole reference and information exchange if our patrons see us as people first and librarians second, or maybe they just see us as librarians and people at about the same time.

standards compliant library websites

When we’re not doing the coding ourselves, sometimes it’s hard to make sure that a website or technology project goes the way we want it to. Learning to communicate expectations before the project really gets going is much better for everyone than trying to retrofit your desires post-launch. The web4lib list, which has been interesting reading in all sorts of ways the last few weeks, has a short discussion about why web standards are important. Thomas Downling explains the ethical obligations and why standards compliance is not as hard as most people say and Karen Schneider follows up with a warning about holding your ground about standards when talking to vendors. Carrie Bickner Zeldman wrote an article about standards for Library Journal in 2002 but the information is just as important, and I’d argue easier to implement, today.