AndyW's blog

5 Universal Truths That All Librarians Can Agree Upon Right Now

Over the last couple of days, I have been reading a flurry of “end of the year” posts. These end of year reflections (and the end of the decade that people had a hard time naming) have made me think about my own reflection of these time periods. It was only within this last past year that I really delved into the library and librarian blogosphere. During this time, what has really captured my interest in the library oriented blogs is the spectrum of beliefs that exist when it comes to where libraries are going and where they should be heading. In thinking about the wide range of perspectives, the different library theory approaches, and the variety of libraries that exist, I believe there are five current universal truths that will be the basis for any discussion about the library in the future decade.

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ALA also rhymes with "astray"

When I was writing the previous post about the ALA, there was something else that was sitting in the back of mind that was bothering me. I had written something for it at the end of the previous post, but then decided against its inclusion since it put the post in a different tone. After reading and re-reading it, with the intention of posting it as its own entry, I realized it was reading as something very familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

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ALA rhymes with “Pay”

In the latest issue of Library Journal, there was an article by John Berry that caught my attention called “ALA MidWinter Preview 2010: The Price to Participate”.

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With partial apologies to Walt Whitman

This is the not the first time my family has crossed paths with Walt Whitman.

In my family’s lore, my grandfather would tell a story about how his grandfather (a judge in Camden prior to the turn of the century) once sent the famous and highly debated poet to jail for public intoxication. His grandmother and her friends would cross the street if they saw ole Walt stumbling their way, drunk as a skunk, for they did not want to be on the same side of the road as he passed. Their recollections, as retold by my grandfather, were singularly unimpressed with the man who has been called “America’s poet”.

Even in death, my mother’s family cannot escape some sort of proximity to the poet. Harleigh Cemetery, where my maternal grandparents, their siblings, and both sides of my grandfather’s family have family plots, is also the resting place for Walt Whitman. When I visit the family gravesite, I can see the Whitman mausoleum about one hundred and fifty yard away hidden in the trees that have grown over it. The only way out is to go past it. You can see the slots of the Whitman family behind a heavy barred gate with little knickknacks, flowers, and other minutiae left outside.

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Nominations & Conference Destinations

I’m very humbled to announce that I have been nominated by my friend Buffy Hamilton for the 2009 Edublog Awards in the category of

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Library Text Message Notification Hack

If you have an email notification system in place through your calendar and/or library automation system, you may not know it but you also have a basic text message notification system. What it takes to make this work is some basic knowledge of email to SMS gateways, how it works, and a little finagling with the wording of your email notices. This may not work for every system (and there is certainly a question or two I can’t answer towards the conclusion of this post), but it could offer libraries another notification method to customers with only a little extra staff work.

In case you didn’t know it, every cell phone number has a corresponding email address set up by the mobile carrier. This allows a person to send an email to a specific address which is then converted into a text message for the destined recipient. This is what is known as an email to SMS (or text) gateway. The rubric for discovering this email address is devilishly simple.

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The search for the next big thing, ctd

As the Christmas shopping season officially began over the Thanksgiving holiday, I have been thinking about what the next big thing will be for librarians and libraries in the near future. It’s possibly the right time of year for this type of meditation as business put out their latest and greatest wares for the seasonal marketplace buying frenzy. What is the “must have” item for libraries in this coming year? Is it mobile platforms? Open source programs? Google Wave servers? Lendable e-reader devices? While these certainly have their appeal to the technophile in me, I think the answer is more basic than these contemporary offerings. Like the holidays of this season, I believe that the next big thing in the coming year is a focus on people. Ourselves, our staff, and the communities that we serve: it is a matter of advocacy.

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Deep Thought Thursday Night

In libraryland, there are a lot of statistics that are measured: door counts, circulation of items, computer uses, reference questions, and so forth and so on. As I was getting ready for the end of the year marketing committee for my library system, I couldn’t help but think about some of the things that cannot be tracked. Specially, I wondered about the number of conversation opportunities that are missed by staff members.

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1st Annual Holiday Online Secret Santa Extravaganza

I’d like to take a shot at arranging an online librarian Secret Santa. It’s been a rough year for the national library community as a whole and I’d like to end the year with some holiday cheer. So, here’s the skinny:
  • Sign up between now and 11:59PM Saturday December 19th. (Form embedded below.)
  • You will receive your gift target’s information on December 20th.
  • Gifts should be received around December 25th.
  • $10 gift limit (Go over at your own discretion.)
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"The Law of Stackable Hamsters"

Picture by jpockele/Flickr

On Thanksgiving, my brother was talking about one of his creative writing classes. He’s on the English faculty at a local college and, as a published author, he is tasked with teaching writing to incoming freshman and sophomores. I’ve certainly heard a lot about his students, both the good ones and the not-so-good ones, and some of his classroom experiences. But when he was telling a story and tossed out the term, “The Law of Stackable Hamsters”, I made him stop and explain that one.

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H2H

Yesterday, I was on the phone talking to Nancy Dowd at the New Jersey State Library about the text message pilot program that I am involved in at my library system. We were winding down talking about the program when she told me about what the State Library is doing for National Write Your Own Book Month: they looking to collect 50,000 words of wisdom through messages that are 140 characters are less. After encouraging me to contribute to the challenge, we exchanged Thanksgiving wishes and hung up. I sat at my desk in the work room for a long while, just staring at the notes from the call.
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Thoughts on Schools and Libraries

Picture by Atelier Teee/Flickr Since I thought about this observation while getting into my car to go to dinner the other evening, I haven’t been able to shake it out of my system.

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Why I Support Library 101 (And so should you)

Photo by Libraryman/FlickrAbout two weeks ago, David Lee King and Michael Porter debuted their

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40 Years of Sesame Street

Like the title states, 40 Years of Sesame Street just passed. Here's a clip of Cookie Monster in the library. Enjoy.
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Lending Materials of a Different Sort

About six months ago, I read about an organization called Kiva that makes microloans to groups and individuals in economically disadvantaged countries all over the world. These loans, ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand, represent people trying to improve their business and lives. Microloans are a great way to provide capital to small businesses that are otherwise ignored by financial institutions. (Read about the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh; this Nobel Peace Prize winning organization started lending to the poor in Bangladesh.) Over time, the loans are repaid to your account; you can take the money out or you can re-loan it to other applicants. It is not without its risk. For myself, it’s a worthwhile calculated risk. At best I get paid back so I can make another loan; at worst, I tried and it didn’t work.

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"Huge Discussion" Triage

Through my Google Reader, there is a “huge discussion” among school librarians that has been brought to my attention. (Starts here, goes here and here, and onwards to here, and a nice summary of it all here). In talking with Buffy (The Unquiet Librarian) about it, I am now going to probably stick my nose into a debate I probably shouldn't get involved in. However, I hope this offers the participants an objective third party assessment of the discussion.

I think the one thing that both sides of the argument should do is concede to two specific certain points.

Obligatory Google Wave Post

In the middle of last week, I got my coveted Google Wave invite. Ever since it had been announced, I had been excited for the September 30th open preview invite. While I didn’t get invited on the first round of invites, my proverbial Golden Ticket came a week after. I had just gotten in at the library that morning when I saw the “wave-noreply” in my Gmail.

There was to be no work done that day.

Indeed, I got into the interface and bounced around the boxes like a six year old on a sugar rush. What’s this do? What’s that do? I made a wave and started trying out all of the headers and extensions (those are the little programs you can add to your toolbar inside of wave). It was symphony of button mashing orchestrating a flurry of trial and error. As people came on, the discoveries continued to abound. (“I can see you typing!” “I can see you typing too!”) Over the last couple of days, people have been dragging files into waves and trying out applications and more extensions. I’ve been watching waves build up to over 100 members and options being added left and right. But, as there are many posts and write-ups about every aspect of Google Wave, I will go a different route to describe my ultimate impression.

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Thursday Night Deep Thought

If tomorrow they invented a way to beam information into your brain (a la The Matrix), would there be a subset of librarians who would object to it on the grounds that it usurps the activity of reading?

I think so.

AndyW

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A Mighty Wind

This is an amazing interview clip. Take the eight minutes to watch it. My comments on it are afterward (and might make more sense after viewing the clip than without).

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-october-7-2009/william-kamkwamba

(Note: I can't get the video to display properly on the entry. So, please follow the link.)

It’s a great story about a young man who found something at the library that set off a chain of events that changed his village. It’s also a great story for librarians as an example of the importance of information access. Without access, our collections mean virtually little or nothing. Even with William’s limited access to library materials, he was able to find a piece of information that was of interest to him.

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