2016 in libraries

pie chart of libraries I've visited

I’m a firm believer of eating your own dog food. Meaning if you say stuff about libraries (and I do), then make sure you go to them as if going to them was your JOB (and I do). Don’t just go to the one library where your job is, though that helps.

Every year I make a list. Every year I reflect on that list. This year I went to forty-five libraries in nine states and one non-US country. Eighty-six library visits total. Many more different libraries than last year, but just a few more visits overall. With all this, I only added two new libraries to my Vermont 183 project even as I hand out awards to people who have been to over 190 libraries in Vermont!

Seven years in a row I’ve been keeping this up. Previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003

Libraries I went to more than once include.

  • Kimball (VT) – my local and one of the best libraries in my opinion.
  • Hartness (VT) – my local academic, bigger collection and longer hours but further away
  • Westport (MA) – my summer local, don’t love it but do use it
  • Tiverton (RI) – the library in the summer that I go to more often even if I can’t check out books
  • Carney/Dartmouth (MA) – local academic, another great library, well-loved, well-used
  • Harvard Law Library (MA) – where my fellowship is and where I can go work
  • New Bedford (MA) – used to be a museum, I take guests here
  • Hookset (NH) – here for work, twice, always enjoy it

Libraries I only went to once

  • Gutman (Harvard) – part of an attempt to go to all Harvard’s libraries
  • Winooski (VT) – doing some Passport work here
  • Oak Lawn IL – stopped & checked email on our #WestOn20 trip
  • Library of Congress (DC) – always a favorite
  • Stowe Free (VT) – participated in a panel for their anniversary
  • Newton (MA) – stopped to chill after a long ALA week
  • URI/Carrothers (RI) – gave a talk, visited friends
  • Claremont/Berkeley (CA) – hid out avoiding a kid birthday party
  • Southworth/Dartmouth (MA) – great place to work, lovely art
  • British Library (UK) – got to take my sister to this great place
  • VT Law Library – MontP (VT) – a farewell to a colleague
  • Lamont (Harvard) – so stoked to finally get in here!
  • Aldrich/Barre (VT) – visiting a friend doing some visioning
  • Belchertown (MA) – what a gem! stopped by on the way home from friends’
  • MIT/Hayden (MA) – what a treat after Harvard’s closed system
  • Ames/Easton (MA) – stopped in before a wedding next door
  • Former War Library (DC) – this is basically IN THE WHITE HOUSE, omg
  • Harold Johnson Library, Hampshire (MA) – my alma mater
  • Montpelier (VT) – stopping in before seeing a friend
  • Goddard (VT) – was on the radio!
  • Brown/Northfield (VT) – passport wrap-up
  • Cambridge/Central Branch (MA) – can’t even remember this visit but I am sure I liked it
  • Boston Public (MA) – saw my friend Tom, got a cool tour
  • Schlesinger/Harvard – saw my friend Jen, got a cool tour
  • Lewisham (UK) – a great neighborhood library
  • Watson Retreat Center (NY) – a funky special library
  • Internet Archive (CA) – they say they are a library, so they are
  • Girard (PA) – a round library, part of #WestOn20
  • Caird Library (UK) – at the Naitonal Maritime Museum, not as friendly as I’d hoped
  • Howe/Hanover (NH) – always a favorite
  • MLK Branch (DC) – saw movies about black history and drank it in
  • Weissman/Harvard – a rare open house, I was not allowed to take photos
  • Cazenovia (NY) – a mummy!
  • Manor House (UK) – a library having hard times but doing ok
  • Fairfield/Millicent (MA) – another great library to take friends to
  • BU (MA) – gave a talk, stuck around to see the basement
  • Pollard/Lowell – a great old classic library

I’ve had an average of 80-ish visits per year for a few years now so I think that is my new normal. So a library every five days. A new library every eight days. Maybe when I hit ten years I’ll do a decade long wrap up. I wish this data was all in standard form….

I am very thankful my work takes me to all of these lovely places. Thanks to the librarians who graciously showed me around.

2015 in libraries

a pie chart of the libraries I've visited in 2015

Again with the library tracking! This is now six years in a row. Previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and some reviews from 2003

I went to twenty-two different libraries in seven states and one non-US country for eighty-two visits total. Did not intend this but it’s the same number of visits (though many fewer individual libraries) as last year. A few things influenced this: I did a lot less distance traveling this year but did a lot of work in local libraries, I also taught at a college where the library was a major hangout for me (thanks VTC Librarians, you are the best) and I worked a lot at my local public library. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year.

  • Kimball Library – my local public library, I work here and I am a patron here
  • Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here and I worked at VTC this year
  • Carney Library UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time (still!)
  • Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning and visiting my friend Virgil
  • Westport MA – the library where I summer, trying to warm up to this library
  • Fletcher/Burlington VT – did consulting here this year and spent more time here
  • Canada Water UK – the closest public library to where my sister and I stayed in the UK, nice busy library
  • Cranston RI – visiting my friend ed, great renovations!
  • Springfield MA – did some work on the way to CT, neat building with a weird vibe
  • Cary Library, Lexington MA – did a talk earlier in the year, really nice place and great people
  • Tiverton RI Main Branch – lovely new building across from the Sip n Dip, great to see it!
  • RUHS Library – high school library in my town
  • Bangor ME – a neat classic library which is getting renovated
  • Greensboro VT – the quintessential Vermont library
  • Roxbury VT – taught an ipad class and saw how it’s been growing and changing
  • East Granby CT – killing time bfore a CT talk, this was a great place to get some R&R
  • Pasadena CA – there was a fancy event here for CLA and we had a nice time hanging out and talking to people in the theater.
  • Bethel VT – another place I taught an iPad class
  • Springfield NH – did some consulting for a library having growing pain challenges as they make decisions on whether to automate or not
  • Kellogg-Hubbard VT – went to a slide show given by a friend of mine, great to be here again.
  • Norwich University, Northfield VT – sropped by and saw their renovations and excellent art exhibits.
  • Orono ME – a pretty and small library

The bigger deal was really the Passport to Vermont Libraries project, a summer program put on by VLA which got hundreds of Vermonters visiting their local libraries and getting passport stamps and other fun adventures. I worked on this with a team of a few other people and it was a very successful program and I think a chunk of that was all of our enthusiasm for our library visits. So I didn’t get my further in my personal project, but professionally I helped get this idea to take off. If you just like library photos, I have more on Flickr.

2014 in libraries

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 16.22.46

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. Previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 (and this little list of reviews from 2003)

I went to thirty-six different libraries in seven states and two non-US countries for eighty visits total. A bunch more than last year, but some were just for ukulele practice or tech planning sessions at a friend’s library. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are: my local public, my local academic and my summer local.

  • Kimball – my local and also the place that hosts Ukulele Club
  • Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here. Good hours, great place to hang out.
  • Carney – UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time
  • Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning, I go here often
  • Somerville West – did a talk and stopped by here another time. Lovely upstairs.
  • Goddard – did some VLA website work here
  • Fairfield/Millicent – One of the most amazing looking libraries in MA with some cool local lore
  • Aldrich/Barre – Went to a few meetings, my favorite local library renovation story
  • Mackinac Island MI – small and lovely with a great book sale and classic furniture
  • NYLP/SIBL – keep waiting for them to close this but they haven’t yet
  • Southworth/Dartmouth – they have a harpoon display here!
  • Pierson/Shelburne VT – went to a meeting, small with a great puzzle collection
  • St Ignace MI – killing time while stranded here, this is a great building where you wouldn’t expect it
  • Atwater/Montreal – my favorite Canadian library
  • British Library – got an awesome tour from Stella Wisdom
  • ULU Senate Hall UK – got a great tour from Simon who no longer works there
  • Rockingham VT – dropped off some things, stuck around to take a peek at this great place
  • Guilford UK – one of the smaller local publics, nice with a watch museum next door
  • Roxbury VT – helped with the automation project
  • Artizan St UK – community center, small and busy
  • John Harvard Library UK – had an odd section for Black Titles and a security guard
  • Sunderland MA – great place to pass the time en route to or from Amherst
  • Somerville MA – the other little library
  • Boxboro MA – wifi to check email if you are early to visit Mom
  • Boston Public – got a great tour by Tom Blake and saw some great stuff
  • Sun City AZ – hanging out while visiting Jim’s folks
  • UM – Duluth – Chihuly sculpture!
  • NYPL/Epiphany – I always love the huge staircase in here
  • Duluth MN – bizarre design but fun to hang out in
  • Westport MA – great DVD collection, sort of an odd place
  • Barbican UK – inside the funky Barbican, lots of great UK history books
  • Varnum, Cambridge VT – stopped by randomly, folks were so nice and friendly
  • Ashfield MA – gave a talk, enjoyed getting to see the place
  • NYPL/Kipp’s Bay – small and in need of renovation but warm and welcoming
  • City University, UK – stopped to check email en route to dinner, nice place, square dancing outside
  • Vicksburg MS – neat renovation, fun kids area

Did not get to as many Vermont libraries as I had wanted to as part of my 183 project. Working slowly on maybe getting a statewide 183 project up and running with other members of the VLA. Looking forward to another year of library visiting.

Apologies for putting Duluth in MI accidentally. Now fixed.

data-driven strategizing for tiny libraries

I really need to upgrade this version of WordPress but I only remember when I am making a post and so I am busy. I did take the time, with other VLA members (Heidi! Helen! Sarah!) of redesigning the Vermont Library Association website. It was a great project, still a little bit in process, but I learned a lot more about responsive design and working with a team of engaged and interested people. Last weekend I went to Lexington MA to speak at the Cary Public Library. Not my usual routine, I was a guest speaker at a brunch talking about blogs. No slides, just talking. I talked about the history of this blog–15 years old this month–and other things I’ve done as a blogger. It went well. You can read the talk here: Blogs, Blogging and Bloggers. Scroll to the end to read a list of good book/reading blogs I put together. Ah, blogs!

Cutler library stats

This past weekend I went to a strategic planning retreat for one of the local small public libraries. They are in the unenviable position of needing to make some changes without really having the cash or the staffing to do those changes. The head of the board asked if I’d come in and talk about… making tough decsions, what other libraries are doing, that sort of thing. I came in to talk a little bit about Libraries I Have Known and spent about 45 minutes with a combination of local library anecdotes (I got a million of ’em) and some data-driven talk.

The Vermont Department of Libraries puts out a terrific Giant Spreadsheet every year with a lot of information about all of Vermont’s libraries. I’ve talked about it before. However, it’s more data than most people want to deal with, which is perfectly okay. I took the giant spreadsheet and used some Excel filtering and added some averages and summaries and was able to create a much more modest spreadsheet which basically said “Show us how we’re doing compared to other libraries our size” For this project, I took all the libraries that had within 400 people population-wise and found the most salient information about those libraries (budget, circ, per capita funding, programming &c.) and then highlighted where this library fell on the matrix for these values. It didn’t take long, but it was fiddly work. At the end of it I think I had a really useful one-sheet for the board (above) and a few smaller spreadsheets so they could see where the numbers came from. It was fun. I’d love to do it for more libraries. I work in-state for pizza and Fresca (and mileage if I have to schlep someplace). Look me up.

2013 in libraries

Daytum Wrap up of 2013 in libraries

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. I have also done this in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. Ten years ago I did a short list of library visits where I actually reviwed the places I’d been. Ah to have that much free time!

I went to thirty-eight different libraries in eleven states for fifty-six visits total. Just a little more than last year. I’m sure I have forgotten some. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are the same as every year: my local public, my local academic and my summer local. All great places.

  • Hartness/Randolph VT – have not been here so much in the latter part of 2012, but this is still one of my favorite academic libraries.
  • Kimball VT – my local, I don’t work here as much but still go here all the time.
  • Westport MA – summer library, good for DVDs and other vacation-style stuff.
  • Plymouth State NH – gave a talk, saw the library. A neat looking place, with a cool clock in the entryway.
  • JoCo – Desoto KS – a tiny town with a great library where I checked my email while there was a rainstorm.
  • Ashtabula Public OH – stopped by on a road trip and saw a lot of people with fishing poles. A quirky big library.
  • St. Johnsbury VT – was here for the Hug the Library event during the unpleasantness.
  • Minneapolis MN – hadn’t been here since the redesign. Enjoyed its shininess.
  • Natick/Morse MA – killing time between friends and dinner, this was a great place to hang out.
  • JoCo – Lackman KS – said hello to Josh Neff here!
  • Beloit Public WI – lovely library, stopped in on a road trip and enjoyed myself. Fancy and shiny and new.
  • St Paul MN – met a really nice librarian who told me some great history of the place.
  • Harwood HS, Duxbury VT – my friend Meghan works here, stopped by the say hello.
  • Manhattan KS – the public library when I was in town to hang out with my friend Donna.
  • Beebe/Wakefield MA – such a neat place with a great bee-themed marketing campaign.
  • Giamatti research center NY – Baseball Hall of Fame! My friend Paul worked as an intern, was fun to look through scrapbooks.
  • KState KS – Donna gave me the grand tour and we got to see the basement.
  • Nebraska Library Commission NE – said hi to the terrific Michael Sauers and gave a talk here.
  • Brookfield VT – first time in a tiny library so close to home.
  • Omaha Public NE – big and beautiful and got to meet the woman who does programming there.
  • Roxbury VT – another favorite one-room library, haven’t been there since they got a bathroom installed.
  • Somerville MA – killing time before the movies, this library is always busy and has a lot going on.
  • KANEKO-UNO Library NE – an arty, somewhat private library, we took a brief look around. Very cool space & collection.
  • Brown/Northfield VT – lovely merging of old and new buildings.
  • Chelmsford MA – saying hi to Brian!
  • Boston Public MA – a nice place to chill on a chilly Boston day.
  • Providence RI – Surprised I hadn’t been here before. Neat old building, oddly underused, it seemed.
  • Lawrence KS – in an old Borders building while they renovated. Quite busy.
  • Windsor VT – checking out the seed library, great photos of local residents.
  • Hartland VT – stopping by because I was in Windsor, before Amy got there, I think.
  • New Bedford Pl MA – amazing building and we got to peek at some of the artwork they were restoring.
  • Topeka/Shawnee KS – a great tour by David Lee King, consummate friend to librarians everywhere.
  • Lincoln Public NE – stopped in before dinner with Michael, busy and overtaxed.
  • Merriam Park – St Paul MN – smaller neat suburban library.
  • Union/Tiverton RI – so cute, so small! Librarian so friendly!
  • Ashland NE – stopped by when I was on a drive. Neat old building, soon to be renovated, amazingly friendly and helpful librarian.
  • Carney/Dartmouth MA – gosh I love this weird place and I want to go back there all the time.
  • Monmouth/Manalapam NJ – doesn’t look like much from the outside but has a lot going on.

I had such a good time visiting all of these places. I can get sort of schmaltzy sometimes but I think the public library system in the US is a truly terrific thing. Here’s to another great year of library visits.