What I did at TXLA – the library version

Rally for Texas Libraries

So there are two reports about what I did in Austin, what I ate and what I did at TLA. Sometimes they overlap. That said, this is the what I did at TxLA post. The other one will be over at jessamyn.com. I’ll add a note here when I’ve posted it.

I went to TxLA to give a talk about the digital divide. I had done a talk the previous month for SXSW but really it was mostly me introducing my co-presenters and then letting them go. I have a little page for that here and you can listen to how it went here. I was pleased with it, but it wasn’t the talk I wanted to give for TxLA. Here is the talk that I gave for TxLA (an all new talk, one that I’m very happy with) and here is a blog-report of it. I felt like it went well, though one of the downsides to being at a giant conference is that a lot of the talks, even ones that I thought would be crazy popular, were only about half full. Here is what else I saw

  • The American Warn on Sex – Marty Klein has written a book by the same name. He does a terrific talk about how encroaching fundamentalism is causing people to basically self-censor in order to “be polite” and it’s shifting our ideas of what it means to be American, and how to participate civically. He’s a funny guy with a very professional talk and I think everyone should hire him to speak at their library conference.
  • I saw Aaron Schmidt’s talk on user experience. While I know the things Aaron talks about generally, I haven’t seen him give a talk in a long time and it was neat to get to see him really untangle what we can do to make our websites more usable.
  • I saw John Scalzi and a host of other authors on a Sci-Fi panel–Science Fiction: Beyond Earth’s Boundaries–which was great fun. I know John Scalzi online through MetaFilter and was mostly going to say hi. The panel itself turned out to be wonderful. Six very different authors who spoke briefly and then answered questions for an hour, talking about their craft and the world of epic fantasy and how they got into the business. Enthusiastic audience and a really great moderator made this a fun panel.
  • Library Book Cart Drill Team requires no additional explanation. Was terrific. It’s always terrific. Here’s a video you might like.
  • Did I mention that TXLA had an app and a very well-curated Twitter feed and hash tag? Both of them were great ways to see what was happening at the conference in real time. For people with non-app phones that could still use browsers, there was a really simple mobile site that functioned well. Big props to Chris Jowaisas for the work he did on this as a newish TLA member.
  • Oh I think I forgot to mention the rally! There was a huge Rally for Texas Libraries which happened on Wednesday. That’s what the photo is from. There were more librarians on the statehouse lawn than there ar in the entire state of Vermont. It was impressive, well-organized and well-planned. Short and to the point and they even got a few reps to come out and say a few things. Inspiring.
  • I went to this Dollars for Digitzation panel where three different women spoke about applying for and getting grants for large-scale digitization projects. Tons of good information.
  • Small Community Libraries Dessert Social was a great place to chitchat with librarians at small rural Texas libraries. Plus there was a lot of dessert. Very nice people, thanks to Judy Daniluk for stopping by to say hi and encouraging me to go to this.

That’s the stuff I can remember for now, with the help of the app and some notes and some photos. My Austin photoset [including a few photos from SXSW and a few from TXLA] is up and online and you’re welcome to check it out. Thanks so much to TLA for TXLA11 and to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for having me come down, it was wonderful.

2 TLA past presidents in this new tattooed librarian calendar

The Tattooed Ladies of TLA (the Texas Library Association) An 18 Month Calendar beginning with January 2010, a fundraiser for the TLA Library Disaster Relief Fund. So neat!

So forget those predictable calendars with cute puppies and nature photographs. Your purchase helps secure the future of Texas libraries and allows you to spend 18 months getting better acquainted with these fascinating and dedicated women of Texas libraries.

[thanks meg]

presenting, computers, tech battles

I’m really happy that David had a good time at my talk at TLA. I’m glad I can get a message across that’s not just “Here’s why you should think exactly like I do.” I went a different direction with my talk this time and used images almost exclusively and then just sort of talked around them. This minimized the “Let me read you my slides” effect and also made me more comfortable ad-libbing somewhat. I’ll try to do this more in the future.

Apropos of this is The May issue of Info Career Trends (I like the text version since it’s all on one page, read the current issue in HTML here) which has lots of articles about being a good speaker and presenter, coming at the same topic from slightly differing perspectives. One of the things I enjoy about the library profession generally is the opportunity to not only give presentations for other librarians, but also to hear other librarians present. I’ve known Jenny and Michael for years and have never seen them present together. I enjoyed their presentation even though it was on a topic that I already know a fair amount about; they’re solid, engaging presenters and a good team with complementary personalities.

Rachel from LISJobs also has a blog, The Liminal Librarian, that many others have already mentioned. I’ve been reading it for a few weeks now, but particularly liked her most recent post on geeks vs. nerds which was a response to an article Rory wrote recently (more further reading in this post).

I don’t see the profession as having a huge schism, but I do see it as spawning many new and necessary sub-specialties. We’ve seen the rise of the YA librarians in the past decade, and the rise of the tech librarians is not particularly different. In some ways I think the view of the schism is a result of the dearth of print materials and the multivariate nature of tech questions and tech issues generally. If you’re refinishing a bureau, you can find a book that will tell you how to do it. The same is not at all true if you’re signing up for an email account, making an airline reservation online, or trying to print a weird-sized pdf. As libraries make their decisions to provide public access computing, they need to deal with the predictable outcomes. What happens when we offer people computers that they don’t know how to use? Or, going back to the USB drive question on web4lib, what happens when we offer people computers that don’t work like their own computers?

Jenny has a series of posts from Patron Day at Ann Arbor District Library and one little quote stood out in her recounting of Ed “Superpatron” Vielmetti’s presentation: “a friend of his said [the library] is the only place I know of where the computer is less functional with the library catalog than it is at home!” One thing about being in what John Blyberg describes as a “tech depressed” area is that I know the same is not true for many of the teeny libraries that I work with, but still, shoudln’t we be aiming higher?

my talk from TLA

I’m sitting in a meeting room in Houston Texas listening to Jenny Levine and Michael Stephens talk about wikis and blogs and rss. I just wrapped up my talk, which is online: Revolting Librarians Redux Review. It went well. The next talk (on paranormal romances, no joke) started in ten minutes so I didn’t get to sit around and gab with people like I usually do. Thanks very much to people who came by and said hello, and especially Jeffrey Levy for handling all of my arrangements and being a thorough and capable host/handler.

sometimes the news is all good

I’ve had a hectic weekend preparing for TLA and a few short trips after that. In the next three months my partner is turning 30, graduating from law school, and prepping for and taking the Vermont Bar exam. We are also probably moving. My job ends in September. My partner is looking for work.

But, on the library front here, I just heard from the librarian at the library-without-a-bathroom, Roxbury Free Library. They will be getting DSL this week to use with their Gates Computer. I helped with that. I also had a student last week who brought me flowers for helping him get online and email his elected representative. Every librarian or library worker should be so fortunate to have a note like this gracing their cubicle wall.