ALA Midwinter Report 2022


Hello from your local Chapter Councilor to the American Library Association. This past week I attended Council Forums and Council meetings virtually and this is my report.

Want to be a Councilor?

Brief note that my Chapter Councilor term is up in May. While I am more than happy to serve a second three-year term, I would also be happy to pass the privilege and responsibility on to someone else. Feel free to contact me directly and I can discuss what is involved. I was lucky to follow in the footsteps of Marti Fiske (with some gap coverage also by Virgil Fuller, thanks Virgil and Happy Birthday!) who did a terrific job for us.

ALA Conferences Overview

The January professional development conference (with speakers and activities and vendors) is becoming known as LibLearnX, and all the committee meetings which happen at ALA in January are… still kind of called Midwinter. It’s a little confusing and I asked specifically if this lack of clarity was intentional and was told by the Conference Committee that they are really trying to spin up LibLearnX as a “whole new thing” and so they don’t use any of the Midwinter verbiage which, to my mind, leaves people to figure it out on their own. LibLearnX does look pretty interesting and now all of the speakers and activities are at “no conflict” times, in case you were thinking about attending in the future. Next LibLearnX is in New Orleans, always a great conference location.
Next big conference for ALA is in Washington DC June 23-28. It is still somewhat up in the air whether this will be in person, virtual or hybrid. I have been advocating for a hybrid conference as I think it allows for better accessibility as well as access for Councilors from far-flung states as well as some serious cost savings for people from smaller chapters but there has been some push back on this, so stay tuned. Report follows….
Continue reading “ALA Midwinter Report 2022”

A CRT statement from VLA

A stamp from a US military location which has an eagle in the center and the text "A E F PASSED AS CENSORED"

I’m on a team of people who help keep the town’s volunteer-run laundromat open. We’ve had a “mask suggested for vaccinated people” sign up since maybe summertime. I make the signs. I also do my laundry there. Yesterday no one was wearing masks. I don’t know their vaccination status but I do know about omicron and it’s concerning. So I suggested we replace the sign with one that says Masks Required. And everyone agreed. But no one suggested it until I did. And maybe the person to get your groups CRT statement going is… you? Continue reading “A CRT statement from VLA”

How we announced we’re strongly encouraging salary/hourly pay scale in online job postings

I am the lead on the Vermont Library Association website. One of the things we do a LOT of is post jobs. Many of these jobs are in small or rural libraries and don’t always pay well. We made a decision to start strongly encouraging people to post the pay range and here was our explanation for why.

We’ve been talking amongst ourselves on the web team and wanted to put in a friendly encouragement for people to put salary or hourly $$ ranges and description of benefits in their job ads if they’re posting them on the VLA web site.

We’d like this for a few reasons, primarily because of equity and diversity issues. This slightly tongue in cheek blog post has a good enumeration of the reasons that this is a positive move for employers to make.

https://nonprofitaf.com/2015/06/when-you-dont-disclose-salary-range-on-a-job-posting-a-unicorn-loses-its-wings/

And here’s a slightly more serious post from NTEN
https://www.nten.org/article/youre-not-serious-about-equity-if-you-dont-post-salaries/

Summarized

  • People don’t want to apply for a job if they don’t know the salary and if it will pay what they need a job to pay (i.e you will get more and better applicants if you include this information)
  • Transparency with salaries leads to better equity among staff (i.e. “harder negotiators” don’t necessarily get paid more, people know what to expect)
  • If the salary isn’t on the job ad, ask yourself why it isn’t (I know many of our jobs don’t pay well, but this is a separate issue, not one that should lead to pay being left off of a job ad)

If people would like to discuss this as a group, or email me directly, please feel free. Thank you for considering it.

on casual research and a 2012 wrap-up

Happy New Year! (LOC)

My year-end 2012 was pretty mellow. I’ve been doing the same technology instruction and teaching at the vocational high school and the occasional local library fill-in shift. I’ve gotten more active in VLA and in the new Rural Librarians Unite group. I had a very busy April-June speaking season which I enjoyed and didn’t do any solo talks after June. I’m upping my rates for 2013 which may seem counterintuitive. I’d like to continue to do public speaking but do fewer events (or more local events that I do for free or cheap) for the same general income. The end of the year was a quiet time to reflect on the value of the work that I do and the work that others do in getting the word out about library technology and technology culture. And there were many people having discussions about the value of libraries, and whether we (or the media) are even asking the right questions. I read these posts with interest.

A lot of questions at the end of 2012 and we’re working towards answers. I have a more hopeful feeling at this year end than I’ve had in a while. One of the things I’ve been doing a lot of these past few months is online research types of things. I was elected a local Justice of the Peace and started a “What is a Justice of the Peace” type of blog called For Great Justice and I posted daily from the time I got elected until January first. Turns out that this JP business isn’t that fascinating and so I had to dig deep into archives and/or special collections to find stuff that was notable and would interest me as well as modern-day Tumblr readers. And it was difficult, really difficult.

It sounds funny, but if there was ever a time that I was wishing for a Digital Public Library of America, these past few months have been it. Not so much because of all the other good reasons but because I would love some standardization of query languages, results formatting, rights statements and just general user experience when I am trying to find something in an online archive. I am aware that asking people to just do things differently does not work and is a crazy thing to request. I am not asking for that. But I am aware, more than usual, that leadership is needed if we want to make the United States’ cultural content accessible in some sort of aggregated fashion.

I am also aware that these archives have evolved organically and most of the time the people involved made mindful decisions about how they wanted things to work. Other times it’s clear that the archives had purchased off-the-shelf archiving software and made the barest of adjustments. People and libraries don’t have a lot of money or time and I get that. At the same time, trying to do a basic set of things

– search for the bound phrase “justice of the peace” (the individual words return too many non-relevant results)
– return results in a way that allow me to sort by relevance or other options
– at a speed where I could browse results and easily check out 10-15 results in 10-15 minutes (or more quickly, optimally)
– in a way that let me know the format of the items in my search results (jpg, pdf, text) and optimally limit by those formats
– in a way that I could know if the item I had searched for was available to be viewed or not
– with sufficient help files that if these things were possible, I could determine it on my own

These things were things I could almost never do. I wound up doing more searching in places like Google Books and Flickr Commons than in library archives even though the library archives often had more relevant content simply because I had limited time and a limited frustration level and I had to make some choice. I am a power searcher. If this is what I am doing, knowing it’s sub-optimal, what are our less power-searcher users doing?

So I’m back to wood shedding, reading and learning more about the digital divide and about how people learn technology and bringing forward my experiences with searching and not-finding to see if I can make something out of the experience that is helpful to other people. I wish everyone peace and joy in this bright new year.

library blogs & news quicklist

I don’t get time to sit down and read blogs as much as I used to, but I still see them scooting through my feed reader, or in the profiles of people following me on Twitter, or sometimes just linked in random places. A few I’ve been enjoying lately.