Thursday, October 26, 2006


Free LJ Subscriptions for LIS Students

Free LJ Subscriptions for LIS Students!

US only, for one year, valid student ID required, link to signup form on page.

(Yes, I'm posting about LJ a lot lately, but this is cool!)



TVC Alert this morning points to "pmeme" -- tracking people making news. It looks like it's still in progress, but interesting -- if we had one of these for the library world, would we have to call it pbiblioblogger? bibliomeme?


Signs, signs

... and they say that libraries have harsh signs...!

From the entrance of the Monterey Marriott -- Welcome to Internet Librarian!


Friday, October 20, 2006


Friday Technolust

So, I'm taking up a collection, in case anyone wants to buy me one of these. (Stick with it, it starts getting good a minute or so in...)


Oct 15 LJ Computer Media

The "Computer Media" computer book review column I write for Library Journal is now online-only, and the first (Oct. 15) installment is now available. Both Computer Media and the new Prepub Alert column are now free; you don't need to be an LJ subscriber or have a login to access them. The online format is also allowing us to add additional reviews in each issue, without the constraints print places on the column's length.

LJ is working on creating an RSS feed for each, and I'll announce here when those are available. They're also going to be tweaking the design for easier on-screen reading, and hopefully those changes will be made soon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


On Links and Language

This is perhaps more a personal pet peeve than anything else, but I've noticed a trend lately in which bloggers refer obliquely to individuals or events, yet leave out identifying names, links, and details. I'm unclear why people do this. To protect the innocent? To avoid accusations that they're picking on anyone? Either way, it leaves me feeling as if there's a massive in-joke going on and I'm the uncool high school kid looking in from the outside.

So as not to be accused of doing the same thing: A recent example is Walt Crawford's "Sophisticated Argumentation" post, in which he takes an unnamed speaker at an unnamed conference to task for language used in a slide about an unnamed topic. Until one of Walt's commenters revealed details this morning, I had no idea who or what he was talking about -- which left me unable to draw my own conclusions, read others' takes, or go back to the original source to get a little bit of context.

As librarians, we really should appreciate the power of information, context, and conversation; oblique comments enable none of the above. I read blogs to keep informed and to get the benefit of others' insights. In cases like these, I either know what/who the blogger is referring to, in which case the deliberate vagueness doesn't matter -- or I don't, in which case the post means absolutely nothing.


RSS Feeds Redux

First, I've added a date notation next to the OPML file on the page so that visitors can see whether they have the latest version.

Secondly, for those of you who don't go back to read comments, Jon yesterday pointed to a great site to create RSS feeds from most any web page. You can use this to create your own feed for any job site that links to job listings on individual pages with a standard naming structure. He's created one for the Pacific Northwest Library Association's job listings, for example:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Library Job RSS Feeds

Thanks to those of you who sent in suggestions of library job sites with related RSS feeds. I've put a page up on listing those I'm aware of; please do continue sending in suggestions for any additions. You can also download the associated OPML file for easy import into your newsreader of choice. Enjoy!

ETA: if you imported the OPML file earlier this afternoon, you might want to redo it, or manually add in -- apparently the online OPML generator I used skipped right over the feeds with an .asp extension.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

So, instead of getting a handle on some fast-approaching deadlines last night, I instead finished reading John Wood's Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. Wood, who started at Microsoft in 1991, was inspired by a 1999 backpacking trip to Nepal to chuck his job, take his stock options, and found Room to Read, which builds schools and libraries in developing countries. Grab this book if you need some inspiration, want some insight into how business acumen translates into the nonprofit world, or just need a good read.


Library Job RSS Feeds?

I'm putting together a list of RSS feeds for library-job-related sites, job banks, etc., which I intend to use in a Cybertour at Internet Librarian in a couple of weeks and post on (If I get enough, I'll also create a handy OPML file for folks to use.)

So, if your local, state, or specialized job board has a feed, please let me know about it! Either comment here, or e-mail me at

(And no, I haven't forgotten about the speaking survey results, just swamped this month!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


LJ Computer Book Prepub Alert

This isn't the sort of thing I usually post here, but -- I write the Computer Media book review column for Library Journal, as well as their new computer book "prepub alert" column. Now, both are found online-only -- so, if you order computer books for your institution, you'll need to look there rather than in the print version. The first "prepub alert" is online now; the first computer media review column will appear on Oct. 16. (You don't need to be a subscriber to view.) Please help get the word out to the appropriate person in your institution -- thanks!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Working for Yourself

The most common question I get on my travels involves some variation on "How do you find working for yourself?" -- often with a subtext of either "... and could I do this too?" or "what the heck do you do all day, and how do you get it done?" So, I thought it might be interesting to talk about a few considerations to keep in mind and questions to ask yourself before making that leap, and perhaps to blog a random day in the classic "refgrunt" style. (In a later post, I'll talk about the good things in working for yourself.) The ten considerations below, in no particular order, focus more on things to keep in mind before making any impulsive decision.

1) If you work from home and/or for yourself, your personal and professional life will overlap to an extent that some people may be uncomfortable with. (See grunt below for an illustration.)

2) In the U.S., research health insurance options before making your move. Especially if you have any kind of preexisting condition, purchasing your own insurance might be difficult and/or costly. If you have a spouse or significant other, see if you can get onto their policy.

3) Long-term planning. Libraries may not always pay well, but many of them offer some very nice retirement benefits. If you work for yourself, you lose your access to a 403B/401K, pension, employer-paid life insurance, etc. The rough estimate is that employer benefits are generally worth 1/3 of someone's salary, so, if you are leaving a full-time job, in order to "match" your existing salary, you actually have to earn quite a bit more. Be prepared to plan and save on your own. Open an IRA and contribute the maximum; find other investments to cover the gap.

4) Taxes. Again, in the U.S., if you work for yourself, you'll need to pick up the "employer's" share of Social Security taxes, basically doubling what you owe. You'll need to keep track of all of your business expenses for tax purposes. You'll probably have to file quarterly self-employment taxes, both state (if your state has income tax) and federal. This is a lot of paperwork, and, esp. if you have other household income (your spouse has a job...), you may need to set aside up to 50% of your gross earnings for tax purposes.

5) How does your temperament fit with the idea of working from home? If you need the stimulation of being around other people -- or grownups -- all day, working out of the house may be a bad choice. If you are very comfortable interacting electronically, this is good, but remember to make an effort to build that in-person communication in as well. Can you work effectively from home without becoming too distracted by other things that need doing, online games that need playing, friends that are calling?

6) How comfortable are you with the idea of marketing yourself? Of asking for money? Of standing up for yourself? Of determining a fair value for your work, and sticking by that? Of keeping track of your work, who has paid, who hasn't, and of reminding those who don't pay in a timely manner?

7) How can you build up your reputation and your options before leaving your job? If you're working full-time now, start trying to pick up projects on the side. It's better to start out as a known quantity and to set up some ongoing gigs, if possible, before making the leap. You might try working part-time while building up your freelance business.

8) What exactly do you want to do? Do you want to start your own research business? Work as a library consultant? Become a freelance writer? Start a business doing presentations and workshops? Design web sites? Start up a publication? Provide IT consulting? Provide programming for libraries? Some combination of the above? Something completely different? Think about your skills and where you might see a matching market or need. Be realistic, here. You might start feeling out potential clients or publishers, or asking around to see who might be interested in your services.

9) Set goals for yourself. How many clients do you envision picking up in your first year? Your second? Your third? How much money do you see yourself making this year? Next year? The year after? What do you have to do to make this happen? How and where will you market yourself? What will you do if you don't come close to meeting your initial goals? How much time will you give yourself before going back on the library job market?

10) If you have kids, what will you do about childcare? Set aside the idea of working from home without some kind of support. Think about preschool, public school, daycare, having someone come to your house a few hours a day, whether family can help out. Again, be realistic about your options, and make plans for what will happen if your child is sick and can't go to school, over vacations and "teacher institute days," etc.

So, what do I do all day, anyway?

Rachelgrunt, Random Day Last Week

Make breakfast, pack lunch, throw ingredients in crockpot for dinner later, drive Preschool Boy to school.
Drive home, note engine light is on in car, turn up radio to compensate.
Call car shop, make appointment.
Check e-mail. Send speaking rates and bio and outline to library group. Answer questions from editor about column turned in last week. Answer question from potential library school student about whether there will be any jobs when they graduate. Fix broken link someone tells me about on Delete spam. Answer several personal e-mails.
Go into jobs database and approve several jobs, delete several spam entries and two resumes.
Sort through queries for upcoming issue of Info Career Trends. Select authors for issue, e-mail everyone back. Receive instant angry e-mail from someone who didn't make the cut. Delete it. E-mail two publishers to request review copies.
Field phone call from "market research firm." Make resolution. Again. To get caller ID.
While interrupted anyway, throw in load of laundry.
DHL guy rings doorbell. Several boxes of computer books show up from Library Journal. Lug them inside, open, and sort them.
Select books for review in upcoming "Computer Media" column for LJ. Type in citation info for all, check pub dates online to make sure they're recent enough to review.
Receive e-mail back from group that they can't really afford my rates and will I come just for the cost of transportation and hotel. E-mail back, say no, sorry.
Read list e-mail, blog a couple of pertinent announcements on Beyond the Job.
See new book announcement in e-mail newsletter, get gift idea, order Chanukah gift on
Start typing in edits to book ms.
Realize it's time to go get Preschool Boy.
Get home, find message on machine from ITI editor. Put They Might Be Giants: Here Come the ABCs video on for Preschool Boy and return call. Talk about potential author's book proposal and draft of a foreword for another author's book. Make lots of notes.
Get off phone, realize it's time to bring Preschool Boy to Spanish class, and that 2PM is way past lunchtime.
Drop Preschool Boy off at Spanish class. Go to McDs, eat unhealthy lunch while reading almost-due library book very very fast.
Go back to Spanish class, sit in lobby, pencil in ms. edits.
Retrieve Preschool Boy, go to friend's house to pick up key to feed cat while said friend goes to Disney World for a week, play with her kids for an hour.
Go home, supervise Preschool Boy riding tricycle in circles on driveway, throw laundry in drier, make dinner for him.
Play games and read with Preschool Boy. Give him bath, read him bedtime stories, put him to bed.
Clean up cat hurl, sort mail, tidy counters, put away dishes.
Eat dinner w/ husband, who just got home from work. Talk about our respective days. Move to our respective computers.
Check e-mail, answer several more messages. Post announcement of LJ "Movers & Shakers" call for nominations on several lists.
Go back in jobs database, approve more jobs for online posting.
Type in more ms. edits.
Watch TV with laptop open, catch up on mom and other non-library-related forums.


Speaking Survey Closed

The speaking in librarianship survey is now closed. Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer, and I'll be sharing some results here just as soon as I find some time to compile them. (Right now, I'm just feeling lucky my power came back on after 19 hours!)

In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out Jessamyn West's useful "Ten Tips for Presenters" at