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. I drove home 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.
I’ve had my head down and have been staying home for the most part, no news here. A pleasant surprise is that there’s been work, talks to give, things to write about. Also: a lot of Wikipedia work. I did a presentation for the Vermont Humanities Council, an organization which I love but will also love to be cycling off of the Board of Directors of, about what Vermont libraries have been up to this past… year. I’ve excerpted it for an upcoming Computers in Libraries article, but as I was updating my talks page, I thought I should maybe mention it special here. If you’d like to read it or watch me giving it, you can go to this page here: Public Libraries in the time of COVID.
I have mentioned elsewhere that doing less public speaking was an intentional decision. I took some time off and now I’m slowly taking some time back ON. I did a great webinar for the folks at WiLS on how to teach online privacy in the library, my usual talk. Then I made two new talks, one at the request of a local senior residence and one for a local Lifelong Learning Institute. Different and all new topics and both of them I’m really happy with. If you might be interested in me giving one of these talks at your event, do let me know.
Second, the talk about scams is more of an outline that I talk over (so no built-in narrative it sort of flows where the conversation takes it. People are concerned about the ways people rip people off and this is especially the case in the online world where a lot of people, particularly older people, can feel out of their depth and not at all sure if they’re doing the right thing. I wanted to give sensible, practical advice that wasn’t just stuff like “Never click on an email attachment!” because, quite frankly, that is dumb advice.
Next week I get on an airplane to give a keynote talk at the MD/DE Library Conference. I’m pretty excited. If you see me there, please say hello.
Email from someone asking about how to merge librarianship and public speaking. I may not be the right person for this question…
Does your employer (if you’re employed at a Library) pay (travel, salary and credited work time) for you to attend those conferences when youâ€™re presenting or do you pay out of pocket?
I mostly freelance. So when I worked in a library, I had a part time job at the library and if I was not presenting for the library then I’d just get unpaid time off. If I was presenting for the library like at a local event, they’d give me (paid) time off and usually it was an either/or about who would pay for things like travel and expenses. If it was part of my job, the library would usually pay for travel or at least reimburse mileage. Occasionally, rarely, I’d get paid for my time by the organization, and that money would go back to the library if I was getting my time reimbursed by the library.
This is definitely a tricky issue with full-timers and it’s worth making sure you’re very above-board with your library about doing professional work like this. Some libraries are thrilled to have staff doing a lot of professional development (teaching or attending) and some are less into it.
If you’re giving a presentation at another library (such as staff day or as part of Library program) how are you contacted? Do you pitch a proposal to those libraries or do they contact you first?
I’ve been in a weird lucky place where I think people mostly have heard about me and so reach out? So I got started in 2004 being asked to give a talk for a local ASISt event and then people saw me and invited me to more stuff. I have a lot of flexibility because of my freelancing and my rates are attractive/competitive (honestly they are probably too low) which always helps. Occasionally I pitch presentations, especially for my local conferences. Now it’s primarily word of mouth. And here’s how it breaks down: Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How does library presenting work? Who pays and when?”
Never had one of these done for a talk I’ve given before. I did more of a write-up on my experiences giving three talks in a week (every specific thing was great but the overall busyness was a little much for me) over at the place where I store my newsletter. Still unclear what I’ll be using the blog space for now except possible cross-posting or … something. But wanted to say hello and that I’m still doing my librarian thing.