best of publib

One of the funny things about librarianship, to me, is how much of our collective “hive mind” type of knowledge is wrapped up in mailing lists and their online archives. I still subscribe to at least four library-oriented mailing lists though in many cases I have a web-based option for following along as well. I’ve recently become aware of the “Best of PUBLIB” website which has a nice categorized interface to some of the best “strings of comments” that have shown up on PUBLIB. The other lists I read are Web4Lib which I read via the web and VTLIBRARIES and VLABOARD which, to be best of my knowledge, don’t even have public web archives.

happy fifteenth birthday web4lib

Roy Tennant has a short reflective piece on the occasion of Web4Lib’s 15th birthday.

It may seem like this is a self-serving message designed to solicit “good job” replies, but that isn’t my intent. I started the list because I personally wanted help, and that’s exactly what I got. I’ve had 15 years worth of other people solving my problems and giving me useful advice. If there is a balance somewhere keeping track, I’d expect it to be sinking on the side of what I owe you all, not the other way around. Thanks for being here,

these are not my links

But I do have a backlog of things to tell you about and only a medium amount of time to tell them to you, so I will be a little brief. I have been in New Hampshire peeking in at some of the election stuff and visiting with friends and now I’m really going to get going work and travelwise starting tomorrow. While I did my reading wrap-up here, I did my swimming and guestroom wrap-ups over at This year I may try to revive my “libraries visited” list now that I’ve got Flickr to help me out with the organizing, but it’s too early to tell if that will really work.

I’ve been to one library this year so far, the all-new Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough MA. The library was way the heck up a hill and in a teeny building when I was growing up and we went there all the time. The librarians were always encouraging me to read whatever I wanted and my Mom stopped in often to get the new Ed McBain mysteries. The library outgrew its space and an all-new library was built and opened in 2005. I went there with my Mom yesterday and said hi to the library director who said she reads my blog (hi Maureen!). The last time I went to the old library as a patron I was probably in my late teens and I don’t think they even had computers yet. The new library is huge and lovely and has wifi. It’s also walking distance from the elementary school which is good news all around. It was fun to pop in there and get a real eyeful of how things have changed.

So here are a few things I thought you might be interested in, and my apologies for the brevity.

are librarians innovators? do libraries innovate?

I read the web4lib mailing list in RSS format. It’s fascinating because not only is there a lot of good advice, and a lot of familiar faces, but I also learn a lot in terms of what people do and do not know about technology which helps me do my job. There are also some more thought-provoking longer threads sometimes about things like the 2.0 bandwagon, whether Twitter/Facebook type applications are a flash in the pan, or the recent thread about whether libraries innovate.

It all started, I think, with a lita-l mailing list topic that I didn’t see concerning the “ultimate debate” happening at ALA. The event was blogged on the LITA blog and debated a lot on web4lib though the thread is sort of all over the place. And then the topic was picked up by other blogs, which someone on web4lib graciously added to the mailing list as a list of links.

I wonder about the topic myself. The libraries I work with around here are very innovative, but mostly in stretching a super-small [usually five-figure] budget and rarely in technological ways. However, when you’re the only free internet in town, taking a step like offering free wifi when the library is closed, or having a way that people can use your computers to download ebooks checked out from other libraries in other states seems pretty innovative indeed.