End of an era, beginning of another one

a small screen showing a slide that says "Fair Use" inside a large empty ballroom-size room at a convention center

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. During a break, I stumbled upon a discussion about abs???, which added an unexpected twist to the day. I drove home the 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.

backlists and frontlists

Hello faithful RSS readers and anyone else who is sort of curious what’s been going on. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been getting my brain back this Summer and I appreciate your patience with what has been a trying set of months. I did go one place, and that was to North Texas during a heat wave where I decided to (mostly) quit smoking and got to hang out with some neat local librarians and some fun folks who I already knew at the Library Tech Network TechNet 2011 Conference. I gave two talks which you may already have read, but in case you’re interested you can click through and check out Tiny Tech/High Tech and On the Fly Tech Support.

This month I’m heading to Cambridge for a DPLA meeting and then to Augusta Maine for a one-day meeting about Ebooks and Libraries which is sure to be interesting and informative. I’m giving a lunchtime talk but also leading a breakout session called “Ebooks are Great! Books are great!” talking about the differences between books and ebooks. Based on some of the feedback I’ve been getting on Twitter and elsewhere, that will be a lively topic.

Next month I’ll really be scooting around a bit and my drop-in time and evening Mac classes are starting up locally which will keep me busy and pretty happy. Anyone attending the NELA conference, the Michigan Library Association conference or the CLIR symposium in Milwaukee, please do say hello. In the meantime I’ll be updating somewhat more here and getting back to my own RSS reading so I hope to be less of a stranger.

virtual conferencing and a few more talks

I was at an NHLA business meeting talking to people about why they might care about what I had for breakfast. It’s a flip way of talking about the whole “Who cares about Twitter/Facebook/Social?” stuff that I feel I hear softly filtering down from offline populations who mostly know about this sort of technology through print media and TV. So, given an opportunity to talk about what I do all day, I explained how social media permeates and penetrates the things I do.

My employer, MetaFilter, has a strong social component as well as claiming over 200 librarians among its members. While the site itself is fairly restricted to bloggish interaction, we have some super-organized members who like to compile Best Of sorts of lists over on our wiki. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Read Me page on the wiki now has links to over 1000 threads worth of book recommendations.

Last week I was down at Simmons where I gave a really short talk about … talking. Basically talking about what public speaking entails and offers in the larger world of librarianship. It’s called “You Do What For A Job?” and you might like it.

So, since I was sticking around town working this month I didn’t go to Internet Librarian or most of NELA, and a few smaller conferences. It was fun to read other people’s summaries, and occasionally real-time reactions, for all the presentations. I’ll be making a sort of “what I learned from not going to conferences” post sometime in the next few days. For now, I’m done with public speaking until March and I’m pretty okay with that. It’s been a fun Fall season.

Website 2.0 – why a cms is in your future

I spent Friday at the NELA-ITS CMS Day. I gave the keynote in the morning, just talking about what CMSes are and why they’re useful with a little overview of a few, and then hung out to see other librarians talk about how they’re using their CMSes. It was a great day. We had a wonderful, if chilly, room at the lovely Portsmouth Public Library and I learned a lot about how some New England area libraries are running their library websites with Drupal, Joomla, Plone and WordPress.

Having the actual people behind these websites talking about what worked and what didn’t work — and people were very candid about what was good and bad about these CMSes — made for a fascinating day of show and tell. Add to this the fact that all the software demonstrated was free and open source and I really think we sent people away with some great ideas on how to save money and still deliver good web content. Not having the chilling effect of a vendor’s stink-eye [or lawsuit threat] was also delightful. I’m now done with public speaking stuff until October I believe. Glad to end this season on such an up note. Thanks to NELA-ITS and Brian Herzog for coming up with the idea in the first place. Notes for my talks — links to slides and a page of links to what i was talking about, are here: Website 2.0! why there is a CMS in your future. Thanks to everyone for showing up. Here are the links to other people’s presentations and websites.

NELIB list of presentations

I really like how the NELA conference did some social stuff this time around. To a conference goer I think it was pretty unobtrusive, there was a blog, a Flickr pool and a few presenters had online handouts or bookmark lists. They’ve also made a one-stop page on the NE Lib website which takes the program and adds links to the presentations where available. So if you remember that you went to a talk Monday morning but weren’t sure of the track or presenter, you can find it here. This took David a bit more time — to collect and collate and upload the presentations — but to the end user it’s transparent and elegant. Nice job NELA Conference team!