It’s a pretty standard view of our profession that one of the things that makes a librarian a librarian is that they work in or with a library. That’s changing in weird and new ways, sort of. I just got back from SXSW and was really delighted to see a strong librarian presence in a number of new and useful ways. For people who are already part of the #SXSWLAM movement, you may already know this stuff, but for people curious how to make librarians into a presence, a terrific and “I want to hang out with those people and have what they’re having” presence, read on.
A lot of this stuff got started with a few high-traffic groups on facebook. I’ve been following along with ALA Think Tank for a while. They have managed to do the impossible: making the idea of joining ALA so that you could hang out with these folks seem like a really good idea. Nice work team. After SXSW last year, an event that had a really good turn out for a librarian meetup, a bunch of folks decided to really turn on the librarian energy and make a concerted effort to be Library Everywhere at SXSW. There was a group set up–#sxswLAM = Librar* + Archiv* + Museum*–a lot of scheming happening and some pretty amazing results.
There were a huge roster of presentations by and for librarians to choose from. I managed to go to a few and was happy to see both librarians and non-librarians in the audience. I enjoyed a solo presentation, The Great Library Swindle, by Carson Block and a really lively panel by some folks you know and love (Char Booth, Michael Porter, Nate Hill and Amy Buckland) called Making Stories: Libraries & Community Publishing (note: you can listen to this panel because the MP3 of the presentation is up already, how cool is that?).
There was also activity and liasoning with the library school at UT Austin. Paul Vinelli who has been blogging about the conference for ALA (posts: 1, 2, 3, 4) created a SXSWi primer for rowdy librarians which made the rounds beforehand and was a good guide for conference n00bs. ALA veteran John Chrastka, now doing his own thing at AssociaDirect did a little branding/fundraising and helped the crew get their own temporary tattoos and anyone who ran into one of the posse would get a baggie with some tattoos and other schwag. I wore my zebra stripe wristband the whole week.
There was also a meetup, a drinkup, and a lot of other activities where you could hang out with other librarians and just have a good time. A lot of this was coordinated through phone apps like GroupMe and the standard twittering and facebook. My two favorite parts of the whole thing (and as someone with a few different posses at SXSW, I didn’t participate too much but was cheering from the sidelines) were the upbeat energy and the inclusiveness. Anyone who wanted to be a part of it was welcome and the people involved were friendly, organized and fun. Big props to Andrea Davis, one of this years Library Journal Movers and Shakers, and Lisa Carlucci Thomas, who were two of the driving forces behind this year’s librarian surge.
I spoke at a conference recently. I speak at a lot of conferences. Most conferences give me complimentary registration which I enjoy because then I can see other programs and hobnob with people. Only recently has this become a problem. A recent conference that shall remain nameless apparently gave my registration information [well, email address for certain, not sure about anything else] to their vendors. I know this because I have received ten emails from vendors saying “Good to see you at the conference!” Since I barely work in a public library, I am certain that I did not give these vendors my personal information. Getting extra email only ranks as a minor annoyance to me. I politely email companies back and asked to be taken off of their lists and they mostly comply. However, having to do this nearly a dozen times per conference should this sort of thing become the norm, does not scale.
I would like to make a somewhat open appeal to conference organizers to make the distribution of registrants’ personal information something that is only done if people specifically and affirmatively decide that this is okay. Every business best practice says that you can’t sell or give away people’s personal information without their consent. We are a profession that is big on privacy. I’d like to see us do this right as well. Here is the email that I sent to the conference organizers.
Hi — I spoke at the recent XXLA conference. XXLA is one of my favorite events and I’m always happy to support it and this year’s event was particularly enjoyable. I registered [and received free registration] as part of my agreement to speak. I stopped by the exhibits hall while I was there but did not give anyone my contact information. This is now the tenth email I have received from a XXLA vendor saying some variant of “Good to see you at XXLA” While I reply politely to these emails asking to be taken off of their mailing list I’m concerned that I never opted in to receive them in the first place and assume my registration information was given to vendors without my explicit permission.
I would like to politely request that registration for the conference is not seen as a blanket approval to receive marketing contacts from vendors. I understand that XXLA has to make ends meet, but not allowing people to opt in or opt out from these communications is a bad business practice. Additionally, and this is more my problem than yours, as someone who speaks at multiple conferences yearly, this small problem quickly becomes an out of control problem. I’d like XXLA to reconsider their practice of giving out registrants’ email addresses without giving people an option to opt out. Thanks for your time.
I went through and did a whole bunch of adding and subtracting to my RSS feeds now that I’m feeling better (woohoo, the raring librarian, I also switched to a new file cabinet! *swoons*) so I may be reading some stuff that you’ve read a few weeks back. Of particular interest this week was Iris Jastram’s short post about someone trying to pretend to be a student in order to get the library to buy a particular book. Steve Lawson adds a little color commentary. Iris smelled something fishy and put the kibosh on it. Nice work. In related news, I am still getting the occasional email from spammers and other press-release mailers trying to get me to link to their blogs or review their books. If I get an email from a publisher, even a press release email, I always write them back and politely tell them
– that my blog is not a book review blog
– that I do not work in a library in a book-buying capacity
– that I do not appreciate getting emails like these
– that whoever they bought my email address from has sold them a bad list
I often get responses saying that they didn’t buy a list [is it against the rules to admit it if you do this?] and they just really liked my blog and thought I’d like their book. I’m at a loss. My particular problem isn’t terribly difficult. I block their address and my problem is solved. The larger problem of clueless marketing and (in Iris’ case, not so much in mine) aggressive responses to being declined seems to be a whole ‘nother piece of collateral damage from the economic downturn.
I didn’t notice this site until they linked to one of my little videos but the Library Videos site by Nancy Dowd the Marketing Director of the New Jersey State Library looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Nancy looks like she likes her job. One of her other blogs is called The M Word and is about marketing libraries.
The American Library Association has launched an email newsletter and they have sent it to every ALA member with an email address on file. The AL Direct FAQ states “AL Direct (American Libraries Direct) is an electronic newsletter sent to ALA personal members by e-mail as a perquisite of membership.” Here is what I noticed in the first 15 minutes of getting my first newsletter.
- The links in the newsletter go to a combination of online content (already available) and giant PDFs that seems to come directly from the pages of American Libraries. I’m not sure I see the value-add.
- I wish I could tell which links went to giant PDFs before I clicked them, but each hyperlink is an affiliate link through an outfit called ixs1.net (helpful error message here) which means no mousing-over the text to figure out which is which.
- The site uses web bugs as near as I can tell, while this is not surprising, neither is it cool
- There is an unsubscribe link, but I had to use my email’s find feature to locate it.
- They don’t post old issues on the web site. This makes a certain amount of sense, since there is already an AL Online news digest as well as a weekly roundup of stories coming to interested members in their inboxes, but then there’s the question: why do this at all?
- I specifically set my communications preferences with ALA — once there was a way to do so — to receive “official communications only” which is described as “ballot, renewal and membership card, American Libraries and division journals and newsletters specified in the ALA Handbook of Organization” on the Communications Preferences page. This may be nitpicky of me, but I don’t see why a heavily-advertiser supported newsletter — Sirsi is the sponsor for issue 1 — which is mostly rehashing news I already have access to elsewhere in ALA is seen as official communications. Put another way, why is me saying it’s okay for them to mail me a magazine seen as the same as saying it’s okay to put me on an email list for a newsletter?
For those of you who are already not fans of ALA, this will come as no surprise, ALA continues not to understand how to communicate in the digital world. For those of us who keep saying “No no, I think there’s still hope” each fumbling foray like this makes us wince and wish we belonged to a savvy organization that excited and interested us with their new ideas and options for intteraction.
There has been a lot of talk about Library 2.0 lately, and I’m with Steve that I’m more interested in doing cool stuff with my libraries than writing about libraries, or debating semantics, but I can say one thing for sure, I know it when I see it. In this case, I know I’m looking and not seeing it