Vermont Libraries in the Time of COVID

Cover slide for this talk which says "Public librariesin the time of COVID" with a little cartoon library beneath it and the URL of the talk

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.

Two new talks

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.

First, a talk on my quest to visit all of Vermont’s 183 libraries. You may have read about the guys who are doing this in Boston. I am jealous of their website but also maybe not in total agreement that rating libraries is good for morale. I did a talk with some library history, some library trivia, and a few good jokes about Vermont. You can see my slides and notes here or read the entire talk here.

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.

slide showing trivia facts about vermont's libraries readable at the URL given

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.

Ask A Librarian: How does library presenting work? Who pays and when?

collage image of a woman's feet and part of a map, a postmark and some stamps
Travel image by Tyler Hewitt on Flickr

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 you’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?”

a talk of mine, in comic form

infographic about my talk, sort

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.

praxis and passports – Two very different talks in one long day

Now that I’ve stopped being webinar-resistant (I thank lots of meditation and more free time), I’ve been enjoying getting to give a lot of different types of presentations. Thanks to the oddness of scheduling, I did two very different talks on Wednesday. The first one was for NCompass Live who does great continuing ed stuff, all of it available online for free. I talked about the Passport to Vermont Libraries program (program website) in depth for about an hour and took questions. Small crowd, maybe 14 people. No live-tweeting. Fun. They put their recordings up on YouTube and you can watch mine here.

shot of the inside cover of 2015's passport

The second talk was for the SJSU-sponsored Library 2.016 Worldwide Virtual Conference. Michael Stephens was putting this one together and I was one of five people on a joint keynote thing, so I had about eight minutes. To me eight minutes means “One big idea” and so I decided to take a critlib angle and talk about how the library just IS a classroom and what it means to learn in a less-structured environment. There were maybe 400 people logged into a somewhat hectic Blackboard environment. You can listen to the recorded talks here, but I extracted mine into an eight minute (somewhat clunky-sounding) video if you just want to check that one out. As always, my notes and slides are available on my website. This was a particularly good looking set of slides if I do say so myself. This image is the catchphrase that seemed to scoot around the Twitters.

the library is the classroom where we learn to be human

As always, it was really fun to get to interact with listeners (in both situations) and get to see what other people are jazzed about and talking about.