Archive for July 2009

I resemble these remarks

Yet another one of Pew’s endless reports — this one from a survey done in April 2009 — talks about the increase in wireless Internet usage. The part that interests me is that about mobile devices:

The report also finds rising levels of Americans using the internet on a mobile handset. One-third of Americans (32%) have used a cell phone or Smartphone to access the internet for emailing, instant-messaging, or information-seeking. This level of mobile internet is up by one-third since December 2007, when 24% of Americans had ever used the internet on a mobile device. On the typical day, nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans use the internet on a mobile device, up substantially from the 11% level recorded in December 2007. That’s a growth of 73% in the 16 month interval between surveys.

Hey, that’s me they’re talking about! Before I got my piPhone in March, I had an old brick of a phone that basically… I know, how silly… made phone calls. Now, I read email or look things up or otherwise go online on my iPhone just about every day — and after just four months, you’d have to pry the thing away from me.

And that’s some serious growth in less than 1.5 years. Some interesting stuff for libraries piloting mobile services.

On authors and hissy fits

I always get a kick out of reading about authors’ overreactions to negative reviews, but it’s been a while since I’ve read some great ones. (See all the fun from last April for more along these lines!)

So, I was pleased to see some new rantiness appear. Here is just part of a mind-boggling example:

In last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Caleb Crain reviewed Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. While regular NYTBR watchers like Levi Asher welcomed the spirited dust-up, even Asher remained suspicious about Crain’s doubtful assertions and dense prose.

But on Sunday, de Botton left numerous comments at Crain’s blog, writing, “I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.”

You don’t see a lot of schadenfreude in blog comments these days! Maybe it’s all moved to Facebook and twitter, too. :) Oh wait — something has! Check this out — Alice Hoffman (although she later apologized and deleted) got mad enough to post the private email address and phone number of one of her negative reviewers to her twitter feed. Hmm. Maybe I should finally get myself a twitter account after all, apparently I’m missing all the fun…

Associations with associations

I just read on the ALA Inside Scoop blog that ALA’s membership numbers are dropping because of the recession. (Yup, this was posted 3 weeks ago — I have a lot of blogs to read, people!) :)

With ALA Publishing Department revenue already in decline, membership dues revenue at $4.3 million is under budget by $127,000 or 2.8%. The number of new and renewing members has declined from 67,827 to 65,437, or -3.52%.

On the plus side, ALA continues to see growth in student membership; May numbers were up by 2.3%. Year-to-date statistics show a flat renewal rate overall for personal members and new membership enrolments are down 6.33%. The YTD statistics also show movement from regular and other classes of membership to the “continuous member” category, which is up 8.7% and no doubt reflects the retirement trend within the profession.

Of ALA’s 11 divisions, only the Young Adult Library Services division has seen growth of 1.04% over FY2008. Not surprisingly, the Public Library Association has born the severest drop at (12.67%), followed by the Reference and User Services Association (8.24%), the Library and Information Technology Association (8.18%), the Library Leadership and Management Association (7.25%), the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (6.05%), and the American Association of School Librarians (5.17%).

YALSA makes sense to me, since they seem to be the rockingest division of all. I’m trying to wrap my head around this decrease in numbers, though, in conjunction with reports of the very strong conference attendance in Chicago. And am wondering if the decrease in memberships is a temporary fluke or signs of an ongoing trend. Are people going to re-up when the economic situation gets better, or will they find that they don’t miss the membership?

Then I went a-reading further and saw Nicole Engard over on What I Learned Today posting about library association memberships. Her reason for not joining more associations?

I was recently asked to participate in an interest group for an association. I said, ‘heck yeah, but I’m not a member do I have to be?’ Apparently I can participate for a period of time without being a member – but why not join the association?? It’s simple. I do a lot of speaking and I have only one rule when it comes to speaking – I will not pay to speak for an association (local libraries – sure – but big associations – fat chance). I will accept a reimbursement of my expenses (without honorarium) in most cases, but I will not pay out of pocket to speak for an association when I can educate librarians at no cost to me via several other venues.

Today I filled out forms to speak at 3 conferences. Two of them require that members speak without any compensation and I just can’t live with that – so I don’t join. I spoke at a state conference last year and had to fight to get my mileage reimbursed because they insisted that association members and librarians who work in the state don’t get paid to speak. Why?

I want to belong to more associations, I want to help the library profession and share my knowledge, but I do not want to – and will not – go bankrupt doing so.

This has always been a mystery to me, and is one reason why I let my own state association membership drop lo these many years ago.

Anyway. Sorry for the post-o-quotes, but I’ve been up with some (hopefully 24-hour) flu since 3AM and am too fuzzy to think about this further — I just wanted to throw the topic out there and see what you all thought. Even comment on Facebook, if you must. ;)

Meredith is more thoughtful than I

I find this both amusing and telling. Yesterday’s post about shrinking speaking engagements and conferences attracted zero comments here — but a number of comments on Facebook. So, I wrote in my Facebook status line yesterday:

fascinated as always by the fact that blog posts get a bunch of comments on facebook, none on the blog itself. It’s funny how conversations move over the years.

… which, in itself, got more comments on Facebook than any post here (yes, I know they’re dwindling :) ) has received in probably a year.

Then I went in my feedreader and ran across Meredith Farkas’ “W(h)ither blogging and the library blogosphere?” about microblogging and how it’s transforming the biblioblogosphere. (Sorry, I still like the word!) Meredith’s post? Up to 38 comments and counting. Is this because Meredith is an “A-list” blogger and has a bajillion readers? Or is it because she’s one of the few people still writing these long, thoughtful blog posts that she misses, and people want to be part of that conversation?

My other (totally nonlibrary) blog gathers many more comments than does The Liminal Librarian. Is this because I post more often there, or because of the topic, or because the people who are into that type of blog tend read it directly rather than on Facebook/FriendFeed?

Yes, I have more questions than answers. But am just wondering how people choose where to continue conversations online, and would love to… have a conversation about it! :)

So what do you talk about, Rachel?

After yesterday’s post, I got a message on Facebook asking: So what do you speak about, anyway? Well, that’s a reasonable question. So, here are a few recent topics:

  • Career building in a down economy
  • Alternative careers for librarians and info pros
  • The cross-generational library workforce
  • Writing for publication
  • Accidental library management
  • Getting unstuck

I also do local classes on saving money with coupons, so if your library is in the Chicago area, drop me a line about that! I’m happy to chat about rates, other topics, and your group’s needs, so email me at, and we’ll talk.

And, if you’re reading this and don’t know who the heck I am (thanks!), here’s:

  • My bio, and
  • My resume, listing all the workshops/presentations I’ve ever done, ever :) .

On speaking and libraries

I’ve been thinking lately about speaking and libraries and the effects of the economic crunch on library conferences. By this point in the summer, I’m usually confirmed for at least 3-4 presentations or workshops for the fall — and right now, I’m scheduled for a big, fat, zero. Now, it could be that I’m just not so interesting to hear anymore, but I’m pretty sure it has more to do with the craptacular economy than anything else. Invited speakers are a logical place to cut back.

Then, I just read in LJ that the Ohio Library Council has cut its entire convention this year — largely because people just can’t afford to go:

OLC made its decision in the wake of a survey of library directors that showed that very few could afford to send their staff to the event. “In light of the recent developments in the state’s public library funding and the drastic adjustments that all libraries have been making to their operations, the OLC made the most fiscally-responsible route for both members and the organization,” OLC said in a news release.

Ohio of course is an extreme case (and if you want to help, check out some of the links over at Pop Goes the Library). I presented there a few years ago and remember the conference organizers as committed and energetic people, so it’s disturbing to read this.

Then again, ALA attendance appeared to be great, although the number of vendors was down. Are smaller conferences going to be more heavily affected? Have those of you who do the conference circuit noticed huge drops in attendance, or a decline in speaking invitations?


(xposted mostly at Mashup Mom. Because I’m annoyed.)

I just spent a frustrating 1/2 hour at Chase. Why? A few months ago I registered as a DBA and opened up a business account, mainly to deposit some very small checks from things like Google ads. I chose Chase because we have a personal checking account there, and I saw an ad on their site that they would waive business account fees for accounts linked to personal accounts.

The banker I signed up with (who of course wasn’t in today) assured me that this was the case, that I wouldn’t be charged any service fees, no worries.

This month, a $10 monthly service fee showed up on my business account. This is pretty significant, given that I have under $500 in there and they of course don’t pay any interest.

So, into the bank I go. No, they’re so sorry, they don’t have any such deal, and I obviously didn’t read the fine print. There was only an introductory 90-day fee free period. They’ll waive it just this once but it will keep being charged each month. Fees are only waived if I use my business credit card with them every month, or if I link to a “premiere” personal checking account in which we need to maintain a $15,000+ balance or be charged a $20 monthly service fee, and this of course has to be what the guy told me.

Now. I didn’t have a $15,000 balance in my checking account in March. I don’t generally maintain a $15,000 balance. I do not nor have I ever had a “premiere” checking account. And, this is not what the guy told me, or I wouldn’t have signed up for the account.

OK, fine, say I. Close the account and move the money to my personal checking account. Oh, sorry, they can’t do that today. Why? Since they waived the $10.00 fee “just this once,” it’s showing up as a pending credit to the account so I can’t close it until that clears, I have to come back another day.

Lesson learned: Get it in writing. I went home and checked my original paperwork, of course, nothing about the fee being waived. Too bad for me! And, way to be unfriendly to home businesses, Chase — Thanks!

More ITI author signings at ALA!

The following authors will be signing at the Information Today, Inc. booth [#4525] on Saturday July 11 from 1:00 — 2:00 p.m.

Tasha Squires, author of Library Partnerships: Making Connections Between School and Public Libraries

Pop culture mavens Sophie Brookover and Elizabeth Burns, authors of Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community

They. All. Rock! Come on by :) .

Future Librarians of America

Check it out, mom

(Blog it, Baby!)


I just received a fundraising letter from Dominican University. It begins:

Dear Rachel,

In 2005 on the occasion of GSLIS 75th Anniversary, you were selected as one of 75 Notable Alumnae/i by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science….

It goes on to ask me to consider a gift of at least $100 to help establish an endowment to fund scholarships, faculty and professional development, and “other endeavors.” And ends with:

PS: If you consider earning your MLIS degree a life-changing achievement that put you on course for your notable career, we hope you’ll join us in making a gift so others can earn this degree and embark on their own notable careers.

What’s notable here is this is the first I’ve heard about being selected back in 2005. You’d think someone would have mentioned it at some point over the last four years before using the topic to solicit donations. Just saying.

(But I feel so notable now! Someone buy me a drink at ALA ;) )