Archive for June 2006

They Didn’t Have Jobs Like This When *I* Graduated…

Michael Stephens today points to a “Virtual Branch & Services Manager” job posting over at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. This is just one of a rash of “Library 2.0″ type jobs that have been popping up lately. (You might become a wiki analyst or a technology innovation librarian if Topeka’s posting doesn’t grab you…)

When I do workshops on keeping current and keeping up with new technology, someone always asks why this sort of thing is important. Here’s one reason: it’s the first step toward getting the cool jobs! But, seriously, job postings over the years are trending slowly in this direction. TPCPL is way ahead of the curve here, but ads for more “traditional” positions are beginning to incorporate similar components. If your library is hiring soon, maybe it’s time for you to take a look at existing job descriptions and whether they need to be revised in light of changing duties, requirements, technologies, and patron expectations.

I’m also heartened that ALA has hired Jenny Levine for a similar position, and look forward to seeing where that leads us!

Any Cable Internet Experts?

This is more a plea for help than anything else… It has nothing to do with libraries or librarianship, but please bear with me.

So, we have cable Internet through Comcast. We have a nice little wireless router set up and a couple PCs connected to the router w/ Ethernet cables. When it works, it’s lovely.

But, intermittantly we lose our connection and it’s anywhere from a 5- to 30-minute process to get back online. The lights on the cable modem and router all stay green and happy. But to reconnect, I need to unplug my PC’s Ethernet cable from the router, plug it directly into the modem, and ipconfig /renew til my fingers are numb. Sometimes it won’t grab an IP til I reboot both the cable modem and my PC. Then, when I plug back into the router, all is well.

We finally got a Comcast guy to come out last week. (They blame our router, but it happens when I’m plugged directly into the modem as well.) He replaced the splitter on our line, and now it’s happening every 1-2 days rather than several times a day. Which I guess is an improvement, but…

Any suggestions? It seems like it might be some kind of wiring issue, since we saw improvement when he replaced the splitter, but wiring is not my forte.

(And now, back to your irregularly scheduled blog!)

On Lightning and Rods

In her inimitable fashion, The Lipstick Librarian posts about what the loss of Michael Gorman as ALA President means to us all. (This blog postdates many of the past year’s flaps, but you can probably guess my thoughts. If not, see this LJ column for some clarification.)

Anyway, she points out Gorman’s galvanizing function as a lightning rod, bringing us together in reaction, if nothing else. This is a good point; I’ve worked places where a forced staff unity, engendered by a mutual dislike of administrative policies, fell apart as soon as the administrator moved on. It’s a lot easier to be against someone’s proclamations — especially such obvious targets — than it is to be proactive in moving forward.

Walt Crawford notes that I call myself “a Library 2.0 believer” (scroll down to “Five brief notes”). I realized upon reading this that I’d never really explained my position on Library 2.0. This is partially because I believe Library 2.0 is best tackled by people currently working in libraries, which I am not. But my experiences working in public libraries (and hearing about other people’s experiences) make me believe in Library 2.0 as a positive unifying force. I believe we need something to hitch our wagon to, and I’m happy hooking mine up here. The main arguments I have seen against Library 2.0 are that “2.0″ is too much of a buzzword or that Library 2.0 contains some existing concepts. Both of these seem to me to be beside the point. I see Library 2.0 as the Gorman antidote, galvanizing us to work towards something rather than just to come out against something.

LibLand Wiki

Some ALA folks (?) have started a LibLand Wiki to give “new librarians and library school students a place to find information and a place to add information about libraries, library school, the American Library Association (ALA) and what it’s like to be a new librarian.” The wiki apparently grew out of ALA’s Library 2.0 Boot Camp (which the wiki currently calls “Web 2.0 Boot Camp,” but nevermind). Not a lot here yet, but this should be interesting to watch as it develops.

I saw this announced on library_grrls, but not on any of my ALA or new librarian lists. I’m unclear whether this is somehow ALA-sponsored, or just created by some ALA folks/Boot Camp participants.

In any case, poking around the LibLand Wiki, I find out that ALA is launching a new JobLIST — complete with teeny-tiny URL! — at Annual. (Looking at their ad rates, I start thinking that perhaps we’re suckers for letting employers post jobs for free — but again, nevermind!) It’s about time ALA made its job ads and career resources more accessible, so more power to them.

The wiki also informs me that ALA apparently has some online communities — but the link takes me to a username/password login. My ALA number does nothing, and I’m not sure how one gets a username, given the lack of any explanatory verbiage on this page. Anyone?

Random Funnies

A couple of the random funnies I’ve seen this week:

Animator vs. Animation (sound and Flash, but worth it — I’m not an animator and still found this hysterical).

Pulp Covers for Classic Books. I think we need one of the random cover generators for these, and see possibilities for LIS texts. (Cataloging and Classification springs to mind for some reason.)

Not so funny: “Product Placement Deal Inked for Young-Adult Book.” Just wrong, on so many levels.

Free Your Content, and the Rest Will Follow

My brand new bag and I just took the laptop to Panera, where their free wireless reminds me of some recent discussion on the WSS-L e-mail list. Some member-created bibliographies, webliographies, and other content are currently behind the ALA member paywall, which spurred talk about whether content — especially member-created content — on the ALA site should be freely available.

The list consensus is that it should, that member-only content on our own association’s site is somewhat antithetical to the principles of librarianship, and that no one really seems likely to join ALA or its sections just to access this sort of online content. (The exception being member information itself, due to privacy conerns.)

Makes sense to me. But I think this merits wider discussion, since this is our association, after all. How much information is hidden online in various nooks and crannies of the ALA site? What impression does it give potential librarians and the general public when attempts to access content lead to a prompt for a member number? Has anyone joined up just to get access? (And, am I the only one who can never find her member card and just gives up in disgust??)

Got a Brand New Bag

This is how I know I’m a techie poser: I sometimes get more excited about the accessories and accoutrements surrounding technology than by the technology itself — especially those that let me feel more organized than I actually am.

So, I must have spent an hour last night checking out all the little pockets and hidey-holes in my new “vertical multitasker” (aka laptop backpack). (If you covet it as I did, use code DADGRAD06 before June 19 for $15 off a purchase of $75 or more…) Since my old oversized satchel caused shoulder problems every time I carried it through an airport, I can’t wait to travel with my brand new bag.

Opportunity and Cost

I’ve been following the recent discussion on free access to online learning with great interest — and mixed thoughts.

I work for myself, and make a living partially by doing conference presentations and workshops. (Walt Crawford rightly points out that nobody’s getting rich off library conference speaking, but it does help pay for my son’s preschool so that I have time to work on the other make-a-living activities I’ve cobbled together.)

People often invite me to present for free, and I almost always say no. I’m more reluctant to say “no” to places like SirsiDynix Institute or OPAL that provide free online learning opportunities, because I believe in what they’re doing. I have no problem saying no to larger in-person operations that invite me to pay my own way and registration fees for the privilege of donating my time. (I don’t have a workplace that bears my travel and registration costs — and never have, even when I was working full-time in a library.)

The one thing I remember from college economics is the concept of opportunity cost: basically, the cost of doing one thing in terms of the other opportunities you forego by doing so. If I say “yes” to doing a free workshop, I then have opportunity cost in terms of the time putting the workshop together that I am unable to spend with my family, or in having to say “no” to a paid opportunity because I’m already committed to an unpaid one.

On the other hand, I do firmly believe in the importance of giving back to this profession and the importance of making continuing education more accessible. If I weren’t already overcommitted and spending too much time on other unpaid professional activities, I’d probably be jumping headfirst onto the bandwagon — and even so, I’ll continue to say the occasional “yes.” I fully anticipate seeing Meredith Farkas and others create viable free or very low-cost online learning opportunities — yes, it will take a lot of time and commitment, but not much different than that required of volunteer local and state in-person conference organizers.

Karen Schneider points out in a comment that she’d “like to see some room between ‘free and online’ and ‘breathtakingly expensive and strictly face-to-face.’” There’s a heck of a lot of room there, and we’ll see what emerges and whether the “breathtakingly expensive” ftf model holds. (Or, whether we or our workplaces will continue to support the bafflingly expensive online versions given by some of our assocations.) It’s definitely an interesting time to be a librarian!

On Life and Blogging

I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but life, as they say, gets in the way. (As Meredith says: “Book trumps blogging” — so do preschoolers on break from preschool… and anniversaries… and things breaking, and Comcast outages, and… well, you get the idea.

So, here are a few random notes while I get it together enough to post more later:

* Steven Cohen at Library Stuff gets the idea for a “Hundred Dollar Folder” from Pegasus Librarian. “…it’s a folder where you put all the notes you get that are compliments, all the descriptions of times when you helped someone out and they were happy with the help, and notes with quotes of when people have complimented you… it’s an absolute MUST and great for reading through on the days when you don’t feel like you’ve made a difference.” What a great idea, and a nice counterbalance to those negative stories we tell about ourselves.

* Next, and you’ve probably seen this on ten mailing lists already, ALA has contracted to provide wi-fi throughout the convention center at ALA Annual in New Orleans this year. (See also the wi-fi list at the ALA 2006 Wiki.) This is cool, and almost enough to make me wish I were going this year. (See you all in Chicago again in 4 years!) It seems like it’s an issue of easier availability this time, but I’m hoping that having wi-fi available just once will provide an impetus to push for it at future events.

* Michael Stephens just e-mailed me that our latest “Tech Tips for Every Librarian” department for CIL Magazine is freely available online this month. It’s usually not, so, yay! Michael and I started this monthly department in January to help provide information for smaller and less-well-funded libraries on ways to implement low-cost, easy technology solutions. Since I’ve always worked in smaller and less-well-funded libraries, this is an issue near and dear to my heart, and I’m excited about newer technologies and solutions that are lowering barriers for these types of institutions.

And now, life trumps again — more later!