Archive for July 2008

News Flash: Saudi Arabia is not the U.S.

An open letter to the several people who have emailed me so far about this job ad:

Yes, I am aware it is discriminatory. But no, unfortunately the EEOC does not hold sway in Saudi Arabia, nor does the U.S. Dept. of Labor. And you might note that if you’re intending to apply for a job in Saudi Arabia, gender discrimination is probably a given, and just the tip of the iceberg. (You may be male, but why not write them and ask if it’s OK if  you’re gay. Or, say, Jewish.)

Yes, I did let them post the ad. Why? If I start deleting job postings from other countries on the basis that I don’t like their laws and/or culture, I start down a path I don’t want to be on. If you want to apply, enjoy, but I’d suggest watching out for that little clause that says:

…be willing to do any and all tasks assigned, even if they are beyond the scope of the ‘contract position’.

If you would like to be annoyed about this further, hop on over to the Annoyed Librarian and join in the fun there.

Edited to add: I feel about this somewhat the same way as I do about postings for positions in Baptist (and other religious) academic institutions in the U.S. that require you to sign a statement of faith. Would I want to work there? No. Would I qualify to work there? Not so much. But, I can’t say the same for all of the site’s readers. I do cull out ads that have nothing to do with librarians, are spam, violate U.S. law, want you to stuff envelopes to make money fast… but not Saudi Arabian ads or Baptist university ads.

Random amusements

I know this is turning into a short little linky blog lately, but this is the sort of thing that makes you keep loving Unshelved.

And, here’s another one of those worst writing lists — similes for your enjoyment! It’s somewhat difficult to pick a favorite…

Now THIS is a rant…

Ever get mad at an editor? Read this for kicks and giggles (and profanity; you’ve been warned).

Make money fast online!

OK, I always wanted to say that… but here’s one for you Twitterers, or those of you who obsessively update your Facebook status. Memoirs, Ink. is holding a “What’s Your Status?” contest:

Memoirs Ink is having a free mini-memoir competition inspired by some great lines we’ve seen on gmail status, facebook status, twitter and others. The status line, while it can be a boring travelogue or list of things done in a day, is also a great form of mini memoiring. (Yes, we just made that word up.) So email us your status (150 characters MAX) and win cool prizes.

Read all about it — the site’s in frames, so click on “writing contest” and then “what’s your status? contest.”

Appealing to the collective wisdom

So the templates for the new are almost done, and will be just waiting for me to move the content over. Question for the crowd: any recommendations for a lightweight editor? Something like Dreamweaver is overkill for me, but something that does WYSIWYG and preserves CSS and all that good stuff would be fabulous. Right now I’m using NoteTab, so something in between?

(Yes, I’m moving into the new millennium!)

And watch the copyright lawsuits fly…

Have you all seen yet?

Mygazines is your free place to browse, share, archive and customize unlimited magazine articles uploaded by you, the Mygazines community.

If you prefer print to video, you can now upload scans of your magazines here, rather than uploading stuff you’ve grabbed off the DVR to YouTube. They also incorporate some social networking features, and if you create a free account you have the ability to create your own “mygazines” of favorite articles, in addition to browsing articles and reading entire issues.

(It’s heinous slow at the moment; they have an “experiencing technical issues” note on the homepage. But fascinating, nonetheless.)

Web 3.0

Hardly working

Originally uploaded by lib_rachel

… may be when you don’t even care that your keyboard isn’t hooked up to anything… Now that’s nextgen.

The Library Latte Factor

If you’ve read any articles or books on personal finance or America’s dismal savings rate over the past few years, you’ve probably seen reference to the “latte factor.” If not, here’s the nutshell summary: We don’t tend to think about how small things can add up and about the opportunity cost of spending money on one thing instead of another. So, you may pick up a Starbucks latte every morning on the way to work (yes, let’s pick on Starbucks again…), thinking “It’s only $4.00.” Over the course of a year, 5 lattes, or $20, a week adds up to $240. If you instead put that $240 each year into a higher-yield account, or contribute to your IRA, or up your 401k or 403b contributions, you can play with the math and be suitably amazed by how much more you would earn over time.

The idea here is that all these little things add up — yes, maybe you don’t feel the pinch when you buy lattes (or whatever your personal vice may happen to be), but add lattes, to lunches out, to having to have that iPhone the week it comes out, and eventually something has to give. If you buy lattes, or lunches, or iPhones, that’s money you now don’t have to spend on something else.

This comes to mind when reading David Lee King’s recent Answering the What Do I Have to Stop Doing Question, on how to answer library folks who ask what they have to stop doing in order to do new things with technology. David’s answer focuses on reframing the question in terms of library priorities. He explains:

Will your daily work change? Maybe. Will some things that you currently do not get done? Maybe – but that’s ok. Because you’ll be focused not on “doing stuff,” but on moving the organization forward.

So yes – the less important, non-prioritized stuff will either get done or get forgotten – and that’s ok. Because you have reframed your question.

That’s a good answer, which fits right into the latte factor idea of determining your priorities and where you want to spend, whether it be money or time — but I’m not sure it goes far enough in answering the question. (Read the comments and links as well for more perspectives.)

Some of the commenters point out ways in which Web 2.0 technologies help save time in the long run, which is another piece of the puzzle here. In smaller, less well-funded libraries than David’s, the time issue is a more major concern: every bit of the day can be filled up with serving organizational priorities, especially if you are the only one there. The “that’s OK” answer also carries the danger of how we define the “smaller, less important” stuff — it’s easy to get sucked into Web 2.0 things instead, defining these as more important because they’re, well… FUN. But, someone still has to sweat the small stuff and keep those library wheels turning.

I think that we need to acknowledge that answering “what did you have to stop doing in order to start doing these new things?” question involves true opportunity cost. At home, the answer may very well be “watching so much TV.” At work, though, it’s not always as simple, especially if your organizational (or administrative) priorities don’t as easily translate to “take time to try new things.” Sometimes taking time to try new things means not taking the time to do “old things” that are useful to or cherished by some segment of your population. If you can make the argument that both reflect organizational priorities, how do you choose? How do you make sure your choice reflects your library’s and your patron’s needs, rather than your own preferences? That’s a piece of the conversation I’d like to see extended further.