Samantha's blog

Yet more on Vote Smart

Take heart, ALA, you are not the only ones being threatened by Project Vote Smart for not endorsing them. The Billings Gazette reports that PVS will leave the state of Montana because the university for which I now work didn't form a partnership with them. Good riddance, I say.

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper's speech to us at the American Library Association Annual Conference started out as most do, with jokes to break the ice and bad puns. After a bit of talk about how he became a journalist, he segued into his experiences last year in New Orleans. He asked the audience if they knew a particular person, Ethel Freeman. Only one person responded. He then told us her story.

When the flooding started last year, her son took Ethel, who was 91 and in poor health, to the convention center we were now sitting in, where they were told they'd be bused out of the city within a few hours. She had survived the storm, she had survived the trip down to the building, but she only lasted two days here before dying. All her son could do was drape a blanket over her in her wheelchair.

Anderson said that this was the first time he'd been back to the convention center since the day after people were finally bused out nearly a week after the hurricane. He said that it was hard to see the convention center repaired and renovated as if nothing at all happened here.

Earlier in the day before his speech, he'd been talking to folks around town, and they begged them to remind all of us about what happened here. They say they've been forgotten, the disaster has been forgotten. Anderson said, looking around the convention center, where were the memorials to those who suffered and died right in this very building? Where was the memorial to Ethel Freeman?

When I first got here it was strange to see these places I had only before seen on the news, underwater or full of suffering people. I was frankly weirded out about going into the convention center building, knowing what happened here. But over the past few days, with the mundanity of business travel, it just became meeting after meeting, where stepping around street people and waiting for a meal at a restaurant were annoying obstacles in my day. I forgot about what this town has gone through--is STILL going through. Outside the area of the French Quarter and the convention center, people still have nowhere to live, no electricity or other utilities, and are under a strict curfew with armed guards patrolling. And for my forgetfulness, my ugly American attitude right here in my own country, I am ashamed.

More than a few of us got teary during Anderson's presentation, least of all himself ("Look, I even cry when cameras aren't around," he joked) but hopefully it made more than a few of us remember.

"Go home and tell people what you have seen here," said Anderson in closing. "Remember New Orleans."

end is drawing near

Tomorrow is my last day of meetings at ALA. Today I actually got to go to a program in between committee meetings, the ACRL President's Program, which featured a debate on information literacy. As an old college debater I was excited but I found myself evaluating the logical fallacies more than the thoughts behind the presentation. Ah well. I will have to mull it all over.

I'll post more later on the session, but for now I have to run off and see Anderson Cooper!

Death count still zero (I think)

Well, I've made it to Sunday and even after a drink at Pat O'Briens (couldn't afford the Hurricane so I had a gin fizz) I still am not murdered. Dead on my feet, maybe. I made my way to the Quarter yesterday and there is a bit more activity over there, more shops open and fewer boarded up windows. We had dinner at Coop's Place and the waiter/bartender said he hadn't been this busy since the hurricane came through.

Not yet murdered in NOLA

I've made it through 24 hours in New Orleans with no major problems...yet. The conference doesn't officially start until tomorrow however. I've been busy with committee meetings and such. I attended the OCLC Symposium on core values and the future of librarianship today and that was fascinating.

Heh, everyone around me is blogging too.

My ALA Schedule

My ALA schedule can be found here if anyone wants to meet up. I will be doing a poster session again this year, from 1-2:30 on Saturday. This year it's on the IL class that I'm teaching online. I'll also be staffing the NMRT booth on Tuesday from 11-1. Come by and say hi!

It's a small campus after all

Today I got to call campus security for the first time, thankfully for an incident outside the library that can best be described as 'youthful hijinks.' Some young people had set up a slingshot made of bicycle tires and were hurling water balloons across the campus. They were being careful to stop if anyone was in the way, but since I'm a crotchety old** librarian I thought maybe campus security should check it out.

I dialed the number for security that's on all the phones. "Campus Security Emergency!" yelped a breathless voice. Yikes!

Calendaring websites reviewed

I've been meaning to post this review of calendaring websites for a few months. Maybe I've already posted it. Maybe I need a better calendar! Read on if you are also disorganized.

HipCal ( is my favorite so far because it looks very nice and is highly customizable. It can be synched with software and devices using the iCal standard (mostly Macs). You can set up alerts for events to be sent to your email or cell phone. Calendars can't be easily shared with others, however.

More info on Vote Smart

Library Journal had an update on the Project Vote Smart debacle today. Some interesting facts:

The Project Vote Smart Debacle

I have been watching with interest the conversation on the Council listserv about Project Vote Smart's announcement today that they would no longer send free voter education materials to libraries as ALA would not write them a letter of endorsement.

My first job after I got my undergrad degree was working for PVS as their library relations person. I joined up right before the 2000 election and during my tenure I more than doubled the program from about 90 libraries to nearly 300.

I eventually quit because I felt that PVS was far more interested in getting their name out there and getting advertising than about helping libraries. Unfortunately, in my youthful stupidity I signed a contract that said I'd work there through the election, which I had to break. For this reason, PVS will either deny I worked there, or disparage my efforts. I had it go both ways until I finally took them off my resume in disgust. I've tried to have very little to do with them since then. I do have an admitted distrust and dislike of their organization.

Their actions today were not unusual. This is not an organization that is good at communicating. They use strong arm tactics like this to get concessions that they want. Their "board" (which is only their President, who acts unilaterally) will issue edicts such as this seemingly out of the blue. I don't doubt that no one at ALA had known they were to send a letter, and I don't doubt that they had no clue the publications would be cut off.

My theory is that PVS is not doing well financially. The library program is very expensive and they were probably looking for a reason to cut it. I definitely wouldn't blame ALA and I wouldn't blame the Library Program Coordinator at PVS, Kira Buscaglia. I'm sure she is just following orders from the President of PVS, Richard Kimball. I would place the blame for this situation squarely with him. As a former employee, I can say this sort of thing happens there all the time and he is the only one behind it.

Google Pages

I recently got my Google Pages account enabled and boy is it interesting. It's funny to think how I spent a good portion of the day hand coding html into my first website in 1996 and here in 2006 it's just as simple as typing a document. Check it out--it only took me about half an hour to make:

This required absolutely NO knowledge of html or css, and it looks really slick. Now my mom can have a website!


Just wanted to post a quick note of thanks to those who are supporting me in my bid for ALA Council and NMRT Director. It is much appreciated--I haven't had much time lately to get myself out there and campaign! We'll see what happens.

For those few of you who haven't yet voted, may I suggest a few folks for Council:

Heidi Dolamore - I met her over a listserv (NexGenLib, I think) where newer librarians were being encouraged to run for Council. She's got endless enthusiasm and lots of vision.

Book review: Motivating Students in Info Lit Classes

I just finished reading this book and I thought I'd share some thoughts on it in an informal way. Maybe this way I can remember more of what I've read :-)

_Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes_, by Trudi E. Jacobson and Lijuan Xu (Neal-Schuman, 2004), first came to my attention on the ILI-L listserv during a conversation on how to better engage students during library sessions. It sounded interesting so I got it via ILL and dug in.

which ones have you read?

A few days ago the Guardian published the results of a poll of librarians asking, "what book should every adult read before they die?" Below is the list, and I've bolded the ones that I've read. Feel free to pass it on and do the same.

ALA Update

I've been pretty much incommunicado the past couple weeks due to family issues and illnesses (although the only thing wrong with me personally is a slight cold, no worries!).

Anyhow, the past week was the NMRT Nominating Committee's candidate forum for Director. For those of you not on the NMRT listserv, I thought I'd post my answers here. Hopefully they'll be enlightening and encouraging! Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

1. How will you work with committee chairs to develop rapport and foster good working relationships? What strategies will you use to achieve this?

In my time as a committee chair, the best strategies directors used was to maintain open lines of communication: checking in occasionally to see if I needed anything, letting me know of opportunities to work with other committees or groups in ALA, passing on ideas or feedback. I would want to continue in this vein. It was great to know that, as a chair, there was someone looking out for my committee and helping me make necessary connections. As a director, I would do the same for the committees I manage--pass on ideas or possible partners for projects to committee chairs, keep my committees' goals in mind when meeting with the executive board, and keep the lines of communication open. Email is a great tool for this, and meeting in person at the all-committee meeting is also helpful when possible.

2. Describe a committee experience that you've had where the chair was especially effective or ineffective, and why you felt that way. As NMRT Director, what will you do to help committee chairs be strong leaders?

I have had the unfortunate experience of being on a committee where the chair went AWOL--we just never heard from her again after the first few months. After trying to put things together on our own for a few weeks, one of the committee members had the idea to contact the Director overseeing the committee, and she helped put things back in order.

Obviously, as a committee member, you expect a certain amount of leadership and responsibility from your chair, and this is almost always the case, but there are those situations where things just fall apart. I would hope that as Director I would help manage things before they get to that point, by remaining in contact with chairs, checking up on folks I haven't heard from in a while, and so on. I would trust in chairs to lead their committees well, but I would maintain a presence and be a resource for chairs and members with questions or concerns. I would encourage committee chairs to copy me on all correspondence and keep me updated as to what's going on; if I noticed this wasn't happening, I'd check in before things went too far.

3. What will be your goal(s) as Director?

Generally, my goal as Director will be to keep a great organization running smoothly. NMRT has provided me with so many excellent opportunities and now that I have a bit more experience and the ability to travel to conferences, I want to give back some time and effort.

I would model my actions after the folks who have served as Director for the committees I was on, by keeping communication open, looking for chances to network for my committees, and representing my committees' interests to the NMRT Executive Board. The Directors I've had have been invaluable in finding out how to promote what my committees were doing internally and externally, and finding partners for us to work with throughout ALA. I would aspire to work in the same way.

Thanks again to the Nominating Committee for this opportunity, and to you all for reading. If anyone has any final questions or concerns I can be reached at [email protected].

I've been tagged!

Thanks, Heidi! It's fun to be tagged for these things.

Four jobs I've had:

  1. Telephone surveyor (only lasted ten days!)
  2. 'Sales Associate' (aka retail drone)
  3. Library Program Coordinator
  4. all the rest are in libraries--I guess the most interesting would be cataloger at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library

Four movies I can (and do) watch over and over:

  1. The Muppet Movie
  2. Star Wars trilogy (eps IV-VI)
  3. Airplane
  4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Four places I've lived:

  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Philipsburg, Montana
  4. Iowa City, Iowa

Four TV shows I love:

  1. Buffy (the whole Jossverse, actually)
  2. Arrested Development
  3. Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
  4. Farscape

Four places I've vacationed:

  1. Krakow, Poland
  2. Prague, Czech Republic
  3. Gold Beach, Oregon
  4. St. Louis, Missouri

Four of my favorite dishes:

  1. chocolate in all its myriad forms
  2. a good medium-rare steak
  3. greek salad
  4. dessert, generally

Four sites I visit daily:

  1. GMail
  2. HipCal
  3. MPOW
  4. LJ (but not the one you're thinking of!)

Four places I would rather be right now:

  1. Home
  2. Visiting my parents
  3. Seaside, Oregon (although it may be a bit cold at the moment)
  4. Disneyland

Four books (or series) I love:

  1. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  2. Anne of Green Gables (used to re-read the whole series every summer!)
  3. the Stephanie Plum series (not really re-readable but I love them!)
  4. Geez, this one is too hard! I read everything, but don't re-read a lot.

Four video games I can (and do) play over and over:

  1. DDR Extreme
  2. Bejeweled
  3. Buffy: Chaos Bleeds
  4. Kingdom of Loathing

Four bloggers I am tagging:

Aww, geez. Who hasn't been tagged? How about:

  1. Birdie
  2. Arnie
  3. SlashGirl
  4. my spouse

No pressure, though, tagged people!!! Only if you want to.

MW Conference Blogging-ACRL prez candidates edition

Better late than never, here is some MW blogging action.

Most of my time at the meeting was taken up by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, on which I am an intern. This was the start of my term and this is a very active committee and there was a lot for me to learn. I'm still kind of processing all that transpired and will probably write a bigger post about it later.

Midwinter Schedule

Here's a collection of where I'll be when at Midwinter, sometimes called a schedule. I'm trying to get myself organized before I go, and ALA's online scheduler is terrible.

Thursday: Arrive in San Antonio, late evening.


Sometime in the AM - visit Alamo, sightsee

12:30-2 Chat Reference Focus Group, Marriot Rivercenter

4-6 ALA Interns Reception, Marriot Riverwalk

5:15 Exhibits Opening/Reception

7:30-8:30 NMRT Meet and Greet, at some place called ANTH Bowie (?)


7-8 Wilson Breakfast, Marriot Rivercenter

RSS feeds for LISNews journals?

Hey folks, there used to be a shiny orange RSS button for my LISNews journal and now it's gone (or at least I can't see it, it might still be there somewhere that I'm overlooking). If someone could tell me the link for my journal RSS feed, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

libraries and MySpace/Facebook

I've heard tales of librarians setting up outposts on MySpace and Facebook to reach the kids these days. Has anyone here tried it? Any success stories?

I've set up accounts at each and it was definitely a learning experience to see what students spend so much time doing on our internet terminals, but I'm not sure I see the outreach potential. I wouldn't want librarians bugging me on either of those spaces, but Facebook did provide a bit more insight into the campus community.

Click here for my MySpace


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