Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For the past few years the theme song around my life has included the line "I'm going to make it through this year if it kills me". Bless you Mr. Darnielle.

So now for New Years Resolutions. The stack of books I got for Christmas that promise I will get through php, mysql, cs3 (lost my connection to get cs4), and study for the lsat as a way out. Basically: I need to get a few flashier things on my resume that I know I am capable of doing. And not just the little letters, I need little projects online that you can poke and play at. Minus the lsat bit, if I become a lawyer (intellectual property and copyright law) I become a lawyer. I'm not rushing into that idea. I have to keep making lists of what I want to do:
fix library websites
fix anybody's website
train new users on computer hardware and software
design training programs for new software
integrate new technologies into older institutions

okay, these are some late night ideas...but I think putting them in writing where I can review my optimism, drawing out the keywords when I write resumes is all what's important. I'm creating documentation here. You'll know exactly how I wrote this program and what it's possible for.

I'd love to lay out more, dates and times and charts and goals and all that good stuff. That would be FUN even if it is a major time suck. But maybe that's why projects need all those visuals, because they work to get the project going.

So here is the project, less library complaining. More library envisioning. In the process of this envisioning, I will be creating several "personas" of who I might be and how I see myself fitting into these roles.

Reminder- you are very good at this. You are a fast learner. You understand what is going on. You have the vocabulary to negotiate between the IT department and other parties. You are needed, especially in places that haven't realized they need you yet.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You The Online Version

Since I bought the domain name I've had a lot of angst. First of all, I didn't want to be limited by the title of librarian and my real name was taken in various other ways. So why end a brand?

Because when I graduated from library school and sent out all my applications, I didn't realize Gmail was adding "sent on behalf of" and I worry my resumes that went into the netherworld looked like they were being sent by some kind of job search agent. But I have it everywhere! Or almost everywhere..Yahoo wouldn't let me have Agent in my name the last time I checked three years ago, but I got it today.

Anyway, so my new dilemma is the website. How librarish.. I'm not looking to take over Pitchfork with music content but I'd like to carve a niche for that, and blogging, maybe something other than running these separate blogs.

Or maybe this is why I have six pairs of glasses and wear makeup only when I feel like it. I'm interested in the fact of image but not in developing one, even though it seems that self marketing is so important.

Which brings me to Micael Porter's "You the Online Version" video I so enjoyed this afternoon.

I'd say he's got great ideas here but I have a lot more questions about accepting everyone on social networking services. While I think it's important to keep your name reserved everywhere, I just ditched Friendster and MySpace yesterday. What I should properly do is rejoin and redirect to my website, or at least Facebook until my website offer something more than a horrible bootlet of my band playing in the 90s. I also dumped about 100 people on Facebook who I felt faked caring about me. I didn't want to see so many pictures to parties I wasn't going to. Now that my PMS is over (whoops, hey that wasn't fair! Too much information, but it was two weeks early and the last reason/excuse on my mind for my feelings) to I integrate people I network with into my life when I enjoy most social networks as a personal space for family, old friends, goofing off and nothing professional? I want my website to incorporate my personal personal, which is about as pro as this blog, maybe more than those other sites. Enough overthinking, back to work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear mysterious force in charge of the internet,
Please give Google more power so that Google Wave becomes VERY popular and forces our IT department to abandon Internet Explorer due to patron pressure. Right now I can't do anything in Wave, which sucks, because I'm sure that during the workday is when most of my pals are going to be on it. IE has crushed my dreams of using it to collaborate with my coworkers in the near future.
Oh wells.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Really. I know it's a security issue. But can we please enable POP3 so we can forward our mail to a service that has more than the tiny little limit we're allowed in Outlook? I'm always missing important stuff because I have to go through major mail purges, I don't have much flexibility in making folders and rules for things like holds lists that I don't need and it just feels restrictive that I have to use this stinky Microsoft mail product when I'd rather have everything (documents, calendar, maps, contacts etc.) integrated into a product I actually like (Google, I know, my answer to everything).

I'm either preaching to the choir or a voice in the wilderness here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Duke: Why We're Not Digitizing Zines

Is there a proper way to format posts that you write as a comment on another blog? Here are some thoughts on Beth Wooten's post on the Duke University Digital Collection's blog about Why We're Not Digitizing Zines:

Thanks Beth. I’d like to add that there are zine sites that scan and archive zines without permission, although there are none I would endorse, and that I think it’s fine for a library to choose not to do so.

I do want to challenge the idea that digitized zines would have to be available online to everyone. I think that it would be great if a library could scan zines for on site research, including indexing and abstracting them. From my understanding of copyright law this would not be a legal problem. I also understand this would be a tremendous effort that is devalued because it would not be put on the web for free, and libraries simply don’t have the money to do that.

To personalize this, I founded a zine library in Olympia WA in 1997 and am now a young adult librarian. I have published over 50 zines and despite buying at least three scanners over the years, I have never gotten around to digitizing my own zines or even making copies for the library I started. I lean towards the idea of selling a cheap cd of all my content, indexed and annotated by me at 30, rather than making it available online for free. While this is probably a horrible idea, I’m more comfortable with the idea of people making copies than posting stuff online. It will probably always be that way.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Printing Improvements

Instead of making people sign up for computer time to print from their flash drives, why not just let them plug in the flash drives at another computer and send the print job to the printer? If a patron is technically savvy enough to be prepaired with their flash drive ready to print, they won't take any longer at those stations than a patron who needs coaching just to make a reservation.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Was A Me Meme, but is Now a Time Capsule and a Rocketship

This is the kind of draft I find that's over a year old and makes me say, wow, okay, yes, I still feel this way. Although now I've been through two Teen Tech Weeks, presented on Twitter twice, become a semi-official resume helper in our branch. I've angsted over the fact I'm not helping anyone with their website design or the UI on any of the systems we have here. What can I do now? Keep learning new things and keep looking for where I might fit in with my skillset.

I really should go to Computers in Libraries next year but am I just going to be cranky and depressed to be around people with real tech responsibilites?

Do I ask too many questions?

Do I want to make too many improvements?

Do I care too much about the users?

The fact is, I truly believe that successful IT companies (and libraries are companies that deal with information and technology) have those concepts at their core values.

Curiosity, innovation, the end user.

So with much ado, here is the bit of the "Me Meme" I started to answer in March of 2008 but put aside until I could think about it a bit more.

How I became a librarian
* Wrote an article in my zine promoting stealing from libraries and was chastized by a friend so bad that I ended up finding out how awesome public libaries are and started volunteering.
* Accepted various paraprofessional jobs for 8 years after graduation and whined about the need for a library school education to do my job.
* Woke up alone in a hotel in SF, hungover and depressed and asked for a sign. The phone rang and Drexel was begging me to apply to their MSIS program.

Why I'm still a librarian
* I'm new to the title
* I love public libraries but am still hoping for something more IT related. To this end I've joined the Young Adult Social Web Committee, helped plan Teen Tech Week, and occasionally remind my trainer in HR that I'd like to be mentored by a librarian that is invovled in IT for the library.


A few more answers to Why I'm Still A Librarian
* I love the people I work with both at my branch and at the system
* It's way better than being unemployed
* I love organizing events for teenagers like arts and crafts and video game afternoons
* I'm really, really good at remembering book titles and authors
* I can remember a lot of online resources and find answers quickly
* I like that people appreciate what I do
* I love that the little kids appreciate what I do
* I like having a short commute
* I like the hours
* I like being part of the community and being a community resource center
* I like reading books
* I am entertained by the goings on in the branch

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On due date cards....

Having recently procured an unopened package of date due cards for an as yet unrealized library art project, this story of petty theft dealing in such used items made me smile knowing that the object is not just of beauty to those of us who grew up with the card's utilitarian purpose, but that the cards continue to be valued and a source of delight and mystery for the young.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No memory....

Apparently our computers at work don't have enough memory for me to download the 2 minute videos the kids made off my digital camera. So all this talk about getting Flip cameras and whatnot...why bother? Also, I really hope my internet at home is up and running because I'm dying to hear the audio and see what ones I can actually put online, we kinda ventured into South Park territory with the yo mama jokes.

Monday, July 20, 2009

things i wish were easliy communicated before someone asks for a guest card

1. How much it costs to print
2. If they need a disk to save, download or send attachments
3. How much time the card is good for
4. If the library sells disks or not
5. The printing procedure
6. How the computers are numbered
7. What features are disabled on the computer
8. If one-on-one computer help is available
9. What accessories can and can't be used with the computer
10. How the notification system works to assign computer time
11. If the library can make change or not

Some of these are rare problems, others I'm sure librarians encounter every day. Number two was the only one on my mind when I decided to make this list, but the otther nine came quickly. I mean ten.

Heavy Usage

Trying to find the catch in a search and win website, I was surprised this made it past their lawyers;

"Doing a ton of searches and/or clicking on search results will in no way increase your likelihood of winning. "

A ton of searches? How much does a search weigh?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

you know you're a librarian when...

So I can't drag and drop pictures in Flickr organizer at the library. So much for using downtime to organize my 15,000 photos and tagging them.

I worry how the poorly sorted and tagged images reflect on me as a professional information manager. Moreso than the thousands of pictures proving I stay out past my bedtime to see bands.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Battle of the Codemonkeys

I'm entering in the registrations for our summer reading program right now, and if there is a duplicate registration, the most technical database error message possible pops up. Of course my 14 year old volunteer had no idea what a key is, or a "System ArgumentException, or why he should "review the stacktrace" to find an error. Can't it just say "sorry, this person is already in the database"?

What I love is his reponse to all this. After I literally decoded the message, he said: "oh, it's written by code monkeys!"

Yeah, I thought those were cute and cuddly until it came out of his mouth, but what a great insult for a fourteen year old to use!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No Turkey For Lunch

I went to the terrific Pres4Lib un-conference last week and participated in the T is for Training podcast. We get on the topic that turkey makes you sleepy, but I knew I read on Snopes, that this is an urban legend. Ohhh, the lil factual cranky gal strikes again. I can't listen to my voice so I have no idea what I talked about.

Also, I jumped right in on this great idea called Battle Decks. 10 slides, 2 minutes, TOTAL IMPROV PRESENTATION:

Friday, May 01, 2009

Libraries and Kindles

And sometimes I write an e-mail that is so much fun it should just be a blog post.

Question: Are any librarians lobbying for the right to lend Kindles?

My Answer: From what I gather librarians are just trying to get a consistent and clear answer from Amazon as to what their Terms of Service are and if libraries can loan Kindles. Unlike regular copyright law, electronic rights are usually negotiated by contracts (in this case the Terms of Service or TOS) that can have whatever provisions the owner of the material wants, with no fair use or rights under the first-sale doctrine.

Here is a good summary of what people have been told:

Since TOS are contracts and not copyright law, I see very little use in librarians lobbying anyone in government to change them. Working with the vendors on a product by product basis (as libraries do for databases) is probably the only thing that can be done unless there is a major shift in the way digital materials are handled by libraries/vendors.

Personally I would like to see libraries forming consortiums that refuse to purchase software and databases that are controlled by strict digital rights management software and contracts. When a DRM free e-book reader comes out I think things will be different. I own a mp3 player by Sansa and only purchase DRM free downloads from eMusic, maybe eBooks will be in the same place soon.

PS disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer etc.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sit Down Shut Up

Fox has a replacement for King of the Hill, Sit Down Shut Up.Was the Australian version funny? This isn't. I don't think there is a single likeable character on the show. There is a bitchy librarian though, Helen Klench. She did manage to be a smart ass and save her job in the first episode. I don't think I can watch this show, it's as bad as Drawn Together

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Silent Library

Oh yay! Some of my favorite things in the world: boys getting hurt, Japan and a library.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Ethicist

If a librarian suspects a patron is being conned by mail-order brides, what should s/he do? The NYT Ethicist column tackles this with the answer I would like to give: respect the patron's confidentiality, see if you can slip him some resources to protect him from scams.

So a few other lil ethical questions came to mind:

An eleven year old patron asks what year he would be born in to be thirteen, and you see he is trying to register for a game site that is 13 up thanks to CIPA.

An eleven year old patron with a Juvenile Restricted card cannot check out Young Adult comics. Should you tell him he's allowed to read them in the library?

Adult patron is trying to find information on home forclosures and is increasingly frustrated that all the sites want to charge money for this information. The sites look like scams to you. (Similar to the Russian brides, and if anyone has good resources on home forclosures I'd like to know).

Adult patron is spending lots of time filling out surveys that promise a free computer/iPod etc. She can barely type and demands a lot of help with forms, and you know completing the offer means test driving cars, signing up for NetFlix and other fun stuff. How much time can you spend helping her?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuff I Did at Work Today

1. Typed up a list of a cart of books I have to give away to other branches and sent it to other librarians

2. E-mailed a woman who wants to host swap meets at our library since she read my post on a local mailing list about our upcoming clothing swap.

3. Showed my coworker a bunch of random things on the internet like the baby tiger that was confiscated from the woman who killed two librarians in a hit and run recently and a $199,999 condo I wish I had the savings to buy

4. E-mailed a local teacher whose students are supposed to be coming in here for their 8th grade projects and getting their work stamped with our cute little owl stamp. I haven't seen any of her students yet.

5. Made this flyer for our February Teen Programs

6. Had several discussions about the library hosting a summer breakfast program for low-income kids

7. Read library blogs and my RSS feed

8. Wrote this blog post

9. Put my schedule for next week in my Google calendar and asked my supervisor for more Saturdays so I can visit my bf in May

10. E-mailed a librarian from Central that I met at a training yesterday to ask about learning more about the backend of our Brooklyn Collection digital database

FYI I'm not scheduled to be on the desk until this afternoon, so this is just a list of the things librarians might do when they're not answering reference questions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Old Authors

I have just realized that at thirty I am having a hard time remembering if I read you recently died or published a new book.

Sorry John Updike. I'll always remember listening to Run Rabbit Run on tape while shelving in the Olympia Public Library.

Questioning the fiction spine label

I'm looking at 32 books and spine labels covered part or whole of the authors name or title on 15 of the books. I would suspect the other 17 books have publishers that know a large percentage of their sales (or these editions) are for libraries.

As someone who alphabetizes her records by artist, and not all LPs have names on the spines, and 7" simply don't have spines except for the box sets, I really wonder WHY?

WHY are we bothering with spine labels on fiction?

Especially when I'm making my own this afternoon. At least once upon a time I worked in a library where we had label paper and decided on a font to use that was relatively close to what Baker and Taylor provided. Now I try to cut the paper straight (no guillotine here!). I just can't seem to get a good standard width to the font either, so there are some kinda ugly tricks to get the first letters of the authors last name on the side. Plus, when the author's first name is covered up because of the spine label, the Smiths never stay in order on the shelves.

One good reason is so patrons can tell what is a library book if the book is misplaced on their shelf. Fine. Like every book you get from the bookstore comes with a shiny plastic cover. We have the location code on the side too. Yes it makes shelf reading easier, but maybe we'd need less shelf reading if you could just read the authors name on the spine in the first place.

Would the system save money? Would it make it more difficult for patrons to find books? Would it make it harder for the part-timers to put books back on the shelf?

In no rush

I'm not going anywhere. However, if you know of any RSS feeds for California Bay Area library/tech jobs let me know. It's for friends right now, but I'm a little surprised at how few jobs in the area I see on the national RSS feeds i subscribe to and I know I'm missing something here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who will clean up Flickr?

I'm looking for Creative Commons (CC) licensed images for Black History Month and I'm seeing a ton of copyrighted images. Some are even "credited" to the original photographers as if that matters. It's way too easy to wander off of a CC search to non CC images by clicking on group pools or tags.


I mean, if your friend wants you to post some party photos, fine, but don't go around taking images from magazines and the Library of Congress and putting them up in your Photostream. Either be a jerk and link to the original image for your blog (beware, if you piss off the person hosting the image they could switch the image on you, it's one of those things that's rude but not illegal in most cases).

Still, I'm trying to be concientious of what images I use on my flyers. I might not be familiar with every image ever taken of Martin Luther King Jr. and if you stick a photo up in the CC stream I'm going to think it's okay until I see it somewhere else and realize YOU DIDN'T TAKE THAT PHOTO.

Still, I see the mess Flickr creates right here. I see its usefulness limited by these people. How will we get rid of the junk?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Twitter Take Two

While I try to keep my library blog worksafe, sometimes I'm amused that no one lets me know they read it. For instance, last night I was out with some friends and apparently I was volunteered at a meeting to come in and talk to admin about Twitter. Obviously no one read my post about disliking Twitter as a marketing mechanism. I tried to come up with some ways I would like Twitter in libraries, and I think it's going to seem very complicated.

1. Each library branch or cluster (local groups of libraries) and department would have their own Twitter account. That way messages would be targeted by audience, parents could know about local storytimes, teens could find out about teen events etc.

2. If it was a systemwide account, it would be best to deal with either announcements (ie closures) or trivia (ie strange things found in books). Trivia accounts must respect patron privacy including annoying/harassing/irrational behavior that makes library work so interesting

3. Would the accounts be interactive? If not the library is just using twitter for web cred, which it loses by using an interactive service as a free text messaging service. Someone would have to respond to direct messages AND would have to read the subsribers messages (including what everyone eats for lunch)

4. The library should be monitoring Twitter for messages that may be related to the library. This might be the most important use. If someone has a customer service complaint and tweets about it rather than fill out a form at the library, the library should be watching out for these.

5. Daydreaming about my presentation that I haven't been asked to give. I want two laptops and projectors so on one wall I can keep my Twitter feed running during the presentation to give people an idea of what it looks like and how it interfaces with day to day life.

6. I've got to learn more about hash tags # . I know this is how numerous users group their tags about specific events and there is probably a use for this in the library.

7. Rumors of software for managing multiple posters to a single Twitter account are out there. The library needs to find out more about this (or if this is the case, I need to find out more about this). I blew off the idea recently because the one I looked at cost money.

8. I'm still trying to figure out how to manage multiple Twitter accounts from one phone.

9. Warning patrons and library staff about the importance of unlimited text messaging. Twitter is a fail when your mom (with two Twitter friends) calls to tell you she went $50 over her text limit in one month. Patrons generally are not as nice as your mom when a $50 charge appears on their account.

10. Last but not least, I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this with a group of people who may have different opinions and knowledge and plans for this. While right now I have serious doubts, in a few months things may change to make this a valuable service for the library system. And as I wrote in my last post, I'm a very big advocate for Twitter as a social networking service. I'm just trying to figure out where it fits in as a marketing service.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Filter Failure, and Not To Find the Good Stuff

I was looking at the Modified Librarian page and did a little backtracking to see just what BME World is all about. That's when I made the mistake of seeing if our library's filter was any good. Now, I can't get to my favorite radio stations or Perez Hilton, which is probably good for productivity, and I'm pretty far on the open minded side of sexuality, but if a filter is going to shield my eyes from MS Paint ejaculate on celebrity faces I sure expect it to guard me against anything naughty at "dogslut's homepage: cock torture and self castration". I'm not linking there, you can go to the BME World homepage and see if it's blocked at your library on your own, and I don't reccomend testing it out while you're on the public desk or if "I was looking at librarian tattoos and went too far back on the server" isn't an excuse you can use (which, since it is my excuse, you really can't).

Which brings me to my typical rant about filters. Filters only filter what they know about. Filters don't filter email. Filters often don't filter chat rooms. Here is a ten year old web page that is not filtered.

It reminds me of a time a librarian friend was visiting my house from Portland. She had dial up at home, so her toddler was allowed to smash the keys on her computer as much as he liked. At my house, he happily climbed into the office chair and did the same. Except we had DSL and left a browser window open. He got "PPP" into Google and hit enter, bringing him one step away from the Polyamorous People's Party. Now, I'm sure they're nice folks, the page probably isn't even strange. Even if the kid hit "XXX" he was probably too young to be traumatized by whatever he saw.

Kids are smart. Filters are dumb. Librarians are curious. People put everything up on the web. You have to think to avoid stuff, and to find what you're looking for. I honestly advocate that parents should supervise their children online all the time. Should my parents read this they'll probably say "oh but you were so secretive!"...well yes, because as a teenager I was doing things I shouldn't have. This was before photos and webcams, but also before screen names. Yesterday was just one more incident in my history, and if I'd known I'd grow up to be a tattooed librarian, it could have happened a long time ago.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Much better

A patron comes up to the desk and says, "I have a problem."

I seize up, wait for the torrent.

"Life of Pi; do you have it?"

I admit my hearing isn't great, but it's much better to mistake something good for bad when it comes to working on the desk.
Happy New Year!

I've tried to reflect on the big life changes I had last year, but I think I take them for granted or see them as insignificant even when they are drastically changing how I communicate with the world.

For instance, Twitter. I can't remember if I joined to keep in touch with any one person or not. I do know that a few months into it, I had my mom (@mikimom) join, and now I don't want my cell phone to leave my side. I don't want it to be a marketing tool, although I appreciate when my DJ friends tell me their shows are about to come on, but I like sharing all my OMG moments, debating what to eat for lunch or if I should buy a certain painting and generally venting my frustrations with the world. I like getting into public private conversations with @jassylime. I like knowing everything @matthickey is up to, it's kinda like living across the hall from him again.

For all the hype, not many of my librarian friends are using Twitter. One set up an account for his library and bombarded me with Bette Midler lyrics as a test one day (I begged him to stop). I'm not really keen on getting under 13s to sign up for stuff they're not supposed to, and I'm not sure I would reach teens that would otherwise not come in the library. Most of all, the idea of keeping a one-sided Twitter account doesn't appeal to me, or keeping one that I wouldn't be able to use on my phone (unless I signed into the web browser, yawn).

So yes, I love Twitter for all the time wasting, why not just text, why not just call, no i don't care what you ate for lunch, i live in a different city than you and can't meet up for drinks that it brings into my life. Libraries, authors, bands, resturants and other professional entities, I'm not sure if I care.