This Moment

This first year of motherhood is overwhelming, joyful, and stretches you beyond your limits. Eventually, the children learn to amuse themselves, though they still need you for many, many things. Once Bairn4 turned one, I started writing again. I wrote a book, Mob Rule Learning.

It was an interesting process, writing non-fiction. I found through the process that I preferred writing non-fiction in the length of articles and blog posts, not books. The process did give me the confidence to try something new and different.

Then Bairn1 came along and I was again in the throes of high maintenance motherhood. The youngest Rochesterling has achieved the ability to amuse himself and thus I have again been writing. All the free time I could squeeze out has been spent working on a new project.

I wrote a novel, a fantasy romance, that has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. Unlike the non-fiction experience, it was exhilarating. I am now polishing up the manuscript for submission. That part of the process makes me freeze with anxiety and fear. I have determined that one step at a time is the best way to tackle the anxiety of the submission process.

I have begun, in the past year, to drop my ALA committments and disengage from libraryland. Oh, I still follow mostly librarians on Twitter, though they are starting to be outnumbered by editors, publishers, and writers. I will still be presenting at Internet Librarian in October. I loved being a librarian and I may be one again, some day, but my heart’s desire is to write more. Now that Bairn4 and Bairn1 are older, I can write more here, there, and everywhere.

Being at home means I can juggle writing in between quiet time, preschool, and PBS Kids. I am going to use this opportunity to see what I can do.

That is where I am at this moment. A once librarian (and maybe again some day) stay at home mom who wants to write stories with kissing in them.

–Jane, happy with her place

Discussing Unconference Things at Midwinter

ALA has been working hard, as have the divisions, in the past couple of years to incorporate more unconference type things into the schedule at Annual and Midwinter. Up until this point, these things have been special events and, while there are a few, most of them are not recurring. It is time to start thinking of making these “special” things less extraordinary and instead making them “just the way we do awesome things around here”.

With that in mind, I am hosting a discussion at the Networking Uncommons at Midwinter on Sunday at 9am. During this time we will likely discuss the following:

  • making current unconference offerings less special and more the way we do things
  • ways to encourage speakers to leave behind traditional sage on the stage presentations
  • planning sessions with different formats
  • linking the virtual and physical conference for a more meaningful experience at both
  • anything else you want to discuss within this topic

True to the topic at hand, the discussion format will be decided by the group on Sunday, depending on how many people show up and how we are feeling that day.

If you love the unexpected, if you long to revitalize the conference circuit at ALA, if you want a place to discuss new ideas, if you want to be a part of a meaningful discussion (instead of a passive listener), if you need some new ideas to take back to your group, if you are a dreamer, a wisher, a hoper, or a magic bean buyer, come join us for a conversation that can make a difference.

–Jane, with apologies to Shel Silverstein

An Almost Streamed Meeting Causes a Ruckus

Something happened yesterday that I am still trying to understand. I am not talking about the shooting in AZ. This was much less tragic in the worldly sense, but more tragic to me personally.

An open meeting was closed to me because I could not physically sit in the room, though the means necessary for me to be “present” at the meeting were available and running; it was shut down for what I think are some shoddy reasons.

A disclaimer: I was not at the physical meeting, so my knowledge of what happened after the stream was cut off is limited to the Twitter hashtag #litabd11 and other backchannel discussions.

A word to the PTB, if you do not control the conversation and allow transparency, someone else will do it for you and the results will not be in your favor. I think the backchannels bore out the truth of that reality yesterday.

Briefly: Jason Griffey set up a Ustream if the LITA Board meeting so that members not physically present in San Diego could watch the meeting. This would also have ensured that members who were currently serving elsewhere at Midwinter could have watched the discussion later. The main speaker for the section of the meeting in question was a consultant who did an analysis of how the LITA leadership works and how we can make our organization better, at least that was what I gleaned from the tweets I saw from members in the room (which sounds a topic all the membership should have access to seeing). The board voted to suspend the live stream “during this portion of the meeting” (though for the record, the stream was never set back up). Jason has the recorded section of the meting up on his Ustream channel which shows the discussion of why the stream should be turned off. The sound is a bit wonky, but gets a little better. The discussion happens about 7 minutes into the recording.

For those not familiar with ALA or the processes of its meetings: The LITA Board meeting is an open meeting at ALA which means that any member of LITA is welcome to attend and participate. LITA stands for the Library and Information Technology Association.

There were three main reasons the board and other members present gave (in the video and on Twitter) for turning off the stream:

  • The board was not aware the streaming was going to happen and wanted a chance to discuss it first,
  • Streaming is a form of communication and should be discussed because a stream of the board would be seen as an “official” communication mechanism of the board, and
  • The information being presented by the paid consultant to LITA was copyrighted and he was paid to present to the board and not a large group (aka the entire membership).

The first reason given is valid, though knee jerk. I think (and this is speculation on my part) that Jason may have tried streaming this without warning the board to demonstrate the issue at hand, which it clearly did. The issue is that we should be streaming meetings and there is some disconnect about the why and how. People do not like to be surprised by things and will frequently reject the thing, good or bad, because the surprise factor is hard to get over. Jason got the knee jerk reaction he was looking for but unfortunately it was not in favor of streaming. The surprise could have given way to a, “What a great idea” discussion, but instead it was more like a “we want the opportunity to apply some red tape to this procedure so we’ll put it off reason” which brings us to the second reason given.

The second reason was that streaming constituted an “official” communication from the board and therefore should be vetted in some way. This argument reminds me of the discussions surrounding the LITA Blog when we first began that successful experiment. The same argument was made for not having a blog. We must get over this idea that everything that is produced should be polished to a high shine before being sent out to members. The internet is a beta platform. If you blog or tweet a meeting, people expect to see a meeting, not an “official” communication platform. If you wait around for “official” there will never be streaming of anything, including open meetings. Official communication methods from meetings, by the way, includes types notes that are out up somewhere, sometimes months after the meetings itself. This is not useful, though I think in the LITA Board’s defense their meetings minutes take less time to get the membership that want to read them. I think it is about time we got over this argument and accept the way technology works. I would expect that an association whose main purview is supposed to be about technology would inherently understand the meaning of change and flexibility in technology. Let us not forget this is an open meeting, but I will talk about that later.

The last reason given, while also valid, has some major issues as well. I do not know the exact rules about who owns copyright on material created by a consultant for ALA, whether the ALA body or the consultant is the holder of copyright for that material. For the sake of the argument, I will assume that the consultant retains copyright. If this is true, than the meeting, open or not, should not have been recorded in any fashion, including blogging and tweeting. However, there was more than one person in the room tweeting what the consultant was telling the board. Those tweets, while valuable, lacked context to some degree, as Twitter often does, so instead of a valid, whole picture of what the consultant was telling the board, we got choppy bits and pieces. In the world of the internet, streaming and Twitter are not that far apart except that one is better quality. Streaming would have given the consultant a better platform. If copyright was really an issue, a creative commons license could have protected the content of the message. After all the money we paid the consultant (I assume he did not do the work for free), should the members not be able to hear what our money paid him to do? Cindi Trainor did let us know that we could receive print copies of the consultant’s presentation if requested. I half wanted to request a copy just to put it up on the internet. I think that getting a print copy of the report is a waste of paper and postage.

My main issue with all this boils down to the fact that the LITA Board meeting is an open meeting. Open. Any member is allowed to attend and I think that should include me even though I can not physically be there. If the technology exists, and it does, for me to participate with the workings of my association, though other obligations and finances prevent me from attending, why are we not utilizing them? If the board is concerned that non-LITA folks might see the goings on of our association, then put the stream somewhere only members can access it. I would not advocate that route, however, since we all know nothing that secretive happens at board meetings. For actual secret stuff, we would have to record the conversations that go on in the halls after the meeting. Streaming meetings would open up opportunity for participation, which is what LITA is always saying it wants.

My secondary reaction is one of supreme disappointment. I love LITA, but I do not always feel that reciprocated now that I am not able to physically attend all the meetings. We are the technology group for the love of all that is holy, but we rarely act like it. Some of the tweets yesterday were arguing that the governing body should not be simply reactive to what members want and my response is “Why not?” Why can’t we experiment? Why can’t we try new things? Why does everything have to be official even when published on a platform, like streaming, Twitter, or blogs, that people know are not polished modes of communication? Why not test the newest technology (though streaming is hardly new) and show the other divisions how to do it? Isn’t that one of the things LITA is supposed to do with technology?

Lastly, and anyone with a shred on internet saavy knows this: If you do not control the message, someone else will. Yesterday, the LITA Board declined to try something new for reasons they felt were valid. As a result, other people, mainly members disenfranchised by the decision controlled the conversation via Twitter, and LITA did not come out the winner. They came out looking ignorant about the thing they are supposed to know about, technology.

I come away from this sad but unsurprised. LITA continues to be the thing I give my time and energy to in ALA because I want to make it better. I want to keep advocating for a technology association that actually is a leader in technology from inside the organization, even if I have to do so from miles away, on my blog, instead of on the live stream of the open meeting of the my board.

–Jane, this post is open for discussion

Librarians, they are good people

It is humid. The World Cup is on. Women in sensible shoes and cat vests are mingling with NextGens sporting tattoos and dyed hair, all vying for advance reader’s copies or a cold beer. It must be a librarian conference!

It has been a couple years since I was really in the swing of an ALA conference and I almost forgot the headiness of it all, the intoxicating sense of being with people who inspire you and drive you forward. Friday, I had a lot of moments that sounded like this in my mind, “I love librarians! I love being inspired by their will to face any challenge. I love talking about big issues with smart, funny, snarky, beautiful people!” Over and over all day.

For the first time Friday, I was able to attend the Library Journal Movers and Shakers lunch. This year it was at the National Press Club. As I sat listening to all of the fabulous things the new class of Movers and Shakers did to forward the cause of libraries, literacy, and knowledge I was truly, utterly humbled. It was amazing. They are amazing.

Besides sit in that room full of people that are doing astounding things, I serendipitously ran into my first boss after library school. She was the kind of boss everyone should have at their first job. She was encouraging and supportive. She fought hard for her team. She found my strengths and let me follow them, regardless of their actual relation to my job. She spoiled me for anyone else actually. Now, I am blessed that Clara is my friend still though professionally we have moved on.

I had an astounding first day and things only got better from there.

I felt that I listened more at this conference. I usually have a lot to say, but I felt more like a sponge than anything else. What I heard were the dreams and ideas of people that I regard very highly. I have some specific reflections on a couple ideas, but those can come later.

I think this marks the beginning of me being back into the midst of things and I am happy to be surrounded by the chaos of my peers.

–Jane, loves being a librarian

Notes from UnALA10

These are my notes on the presentations given during the Unconference at ALA. Here is how they came into being:

As a large group (we had over 50 participants!), we brainstormed trending topics in libraries. Topics generated during this ranged from the digital divide to services in libraries. Then, each person was able to vote 5 times for the topics they found the most interesting. They were able to use their votes in whatever manner they liked, all 5 for one, spread out or not at all. The top 8 made the final list and from there, we ended up with 6 groups.

The groups then had one hour to create a 7 minutes or less presentation, in the format of their choosing. Each group presented to the larger group after one hour.

The conversations that the groups had at their tables were wonderful. It was fun to observe and listen.

Below are my notes from the presentations. Each group’s topic is in bold:

Service in libraries
trending and service in libraries
pump it yourself (as in gas) generation – older who do not use technology and do not like it
mobile reference and things online – younger generations
the people that want the things online are the people driving the trend
checkout is going to go away, that is not the word, access is the word
library as place is still a thing that matters – people still want to do that
unique programming happens in libraries and this brings in different users
children’s services are more traditional and this has not changed much
literature services on the other side of the digital divide
we still have books
Book Well – librarians trained to use books as a healing process (I was unable to find the link. I think it is in Australia?)

Web Usability, Next Gen websites
single search interfaces
requires a change in thinking from catalog vs database
need info from proprietary databases
does not always return the best resources
librarians hate it student love it – shallow searches
branding and various flavors available
high transaction costs means no availability – hard to get to resources behind closed doors
Ex. XC Extensible Catalog, Summon, Follet One Search, WorldCat Local, EBSCO Discovery service
search indexes
pushing data out
The Newberry Library – pushing geographical information out with digital collections, using local history and adding the places onto
resources are too fragmented in too many places so do we need to gather them to one place or push them out to more places

SWOT – Library Viability

Space – the library is a space in the community
Why – complacency, bureaucracy, lack of staff
Threats – poor management/leadership, areas of change/fear of change, budget/funding, lack of community awareness
Opportunities – marketing, advocacy (we do not always do well but they are things that we have to do), better operating models and standing up to publishers that are causing price problems for libraries, digital resources, community outreach

One of the participants turned their computer into a big timer to keep the groups on time. I love unconferences

You Be the Change
how do we deal with staff,colleagues and the PUBLIC that are resistance to change
asking some people to change is like a natural disaster to them and then you are dealing with the unknown
tips for dealing with change
proactive vs reactive – be thinking about the future and not what we did not what we did in the past. There will always be change victims, figure out how to work with them and how to make them feel valued
Get data to support the change
take initiative – do not wait for someone else to do it
build relationships
what are the needs of people in the org
be flexible if you are the change agent
your attitude – be positive
mentor – having a mentor in your org or not that will support you through the process
Training opportunities – synthesizing new knowledge
Time – it takes time
You be the change, you can be the change, it takes, time, effort, persistent. Sometimes you are so close to the change that you can not see it, the forest for the trees, so remember to occasionally step back and see what is going on.
Good question on when you get rid of/fire people who do not get on board with changes.. govt agencies always have malcontents, part of performance reviews
q – have a list of shared values, find the motivators for different actors in the conflict, find the contribution that individuals are making to the org especially if they are resistors
conversations are important – talking AND listening with intent

Digital Divide – avoiding the #epicfail

this group had a presentation on the computer but we have a technology fail and they are going “analog style” and using their notes
information literacy
access to technology
interpersonal interaction
online vs f2f
generations compressing in staff and users
They ask the group what their libraries have done to bridge some of the divide
checking out laptops – in the library
tried to give an 84 yr old Nook and did not like it bc of packaging, feel of books, liked buying used books
in India – costs of textbooks issue for students, small loans for students to buy books, FlatWorldKnowledge, company that makes books available for students in multiple formats
circ Kindles

Finding, Getting, and Keeping Library Jobs

be open minded about your future including looking beyond the word library and librarianship
don;t fear the job description
relocating
RSS feeds, websites, job boards, but most people get jobs through people so do that as much as possible
Getting the job
be a good presenter of yourself
network, know people, communicate with others
move out of your comfort zone – be flexible about your job
frame what you have done to get what you want, frame it for the job
interview well
Keeping the job
holding something back to avoid burnout
get a mentor, they’re awesome
politics – learn how to deal with them well
get involved with a bog project, complete small and and keep them moving forward
be versatile in what you do, do not say, “this isn’t in my job description”
awesome, they sang a song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

–Jane, has some new things to think about, thanks unala peeps!

Unala is now a morning only event… and you can still come

All my posts these days seem to be about the unconference at ALA. I am hoping to remedy that, tomorrow.

For possibly several reasons, the unconference at ALA has low registration numbers, compared to last year. Perhaps the largest reason is that Friday, and honestly every day at Annual, is packed with many, many great things with which you can fill your schedule. Setting aside an entire day for an event can be hard for many people. I also think that the unconference was not as high profile this year, not being an officially sponsored President’s Program. Whatever the reason, registration remained low and Sean and I decided to have a half day event instead.

We did not want to cancel the unconference altogether, we like the idea and the concept too much (I wrote a book about it for the love of chaos). We decided that with the handful of people coming, 21 plus volunteers at this juncture, we would shift the format and reduce the time. The unconference will now be held Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-Noon in 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

It is my hope that a morning only unconference will also draw in a few more people. If you hesitated to sign up for an all day event, please come join us for this new half day extravaganza.

We have a new format as well. Unless a participant comes up with something better (you never know at an unconference), the day will consist of the large group brainstorming trending topics in libraries, choosing the top 5 topics, dispersing into smaller groups, and then creating on the fly Pecha Kucha presentations. It will be a time to meet new people, learn new things, and share ways to make libraries and our profession better.

–Jane, everyone wants to change the world

Come unala With Us

Something that has the potential to be the most exciting and fun thing happening at ALA Annual this year still has a lot of spaces for people to attend. And it is a free event. And if you come, you will have a large say in what happens, what we talk about, and how what is shared in a few short hours could change the world.

Don’t you want to change the world?

Come to the Unconference at ALA Annual. Sean came up with the theme for the day: the theme is the number 9, the homophone for long lasting in Chinese. Long lasting friendships and long lasting impacts upon the library community.

Last year was fun, but this year could be better. We are mixing it up with flash debates, Pecha Kecha presentations, and a fishbowl at the end of the day. We are also in the conference center so there should be no wifi issues.

If you are looking at your schedule for Annual and thinking it needs some zip, some inspiration, or some fun, sign up to find all three Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm.

By the way, if you have to duck out for lunch plans or have to miss part of the day, sign up anyway and indicate that you will be gone for part of the day.

–Jane, only you know the best way to save the world, come tell others about it

unala10 Registration Opens May 24th!

Another (Un)Official announcement!

ALA Unconference 2010 or unala10 will be Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm in room 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

Registration for the ALA Unconference will open on May 24, 2010 at 10am EST/ 9am CST.Registration will be limited to 100 people this year. Once there are 100 people on the list, there will be a waiting list. Last year we were able to get everyone in on the waiting list, so do not be too discouraged if you end up on the secondary list.

The schedule this year will include 9×9 Greetings, Pecha Kucha presentations, Flash Debates, a Fishbowl, and group discussion times whose facilitation style will be decided by the group engaging in them.

You do not want to miss this day of creativity, sharing, and planning to change the world.

Sean, my partner in chaos for this event, will be the Man Behind the Curtain during registration. If you have questions or problems, he is the man with the power. I will be drinking beer in Amsterdam.

–Jane, proost to unconferences everywhere

unala10 (Un)Official Call for Volunteers

Can there be official announcements for an unevent? Perhaps.

Mark your calenders, oh you lovers of chaos and fun. ALA Unconference 2010 or unala10 will be Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm in room 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

This year, I am planning the unconference with the amazing Sean Robinson. Last year, ALA was just getting their feet wet with the unconference idea. This year, Sean and I decided to kick it up a notch and give the crowd more power. Between our two brains, we have cooked up an exciting day of unconference fun. For a sneak peek, check out the preliminary schedule already on the wiki.

Announcements about registration dates will be coming in mid-May. Registration will happen shortly thereafter. Keep your eyes and social media feeds open. We will announce it in enough places that you will be unlikely to miss it.

Now to the true purpose of this post. Sean and I would like to have some volunteers for the unconference. These lovely, fabulous people would help us wrangle the crowd during the course of the day. You know how those crowds can get all chaotic and unruly. Volunteers will not have to compete for an official spot on registration day as they will have a special spot reserved. We would like our wranglers to be SLIS students. I know some of you seasoned librarians are a little broken hearted. I still love you.

If you are a current or soon to be graduating SLIS student, please email me at mboule at gmail dot com, DM me on Twitter, or send me a smoke signal. I only need three people so type fast.

–Jane, (un)changing the world

Coffee Makes Jane a Better Jane

Some days, I think the only things that remind me that I am, deep down, a nice person are a good cup of coffee and God. I came to the conclusion yesterday, and admitted it to the world on Twitter, that though I do not want to be, I am a morning person. I know; it is extremely disappointing to me as well. I just can not get much done after 1 pm. Perhaps it is a sign of my advanced age.

In sending out some emails for book related things, I am reminded, yet again, how truly remarkable librarians are as a profession. We love to help each other and we are excited for each other. It is so different from other professions sometimes. I suppose, since we are a service industry, I should cease to be surprised by this. I am glad that I can still recognize blessings when I see them. I love librarians, in a big group hug, squeeze you tight sort of way. I am really looking forward to Annual in June.

The book is coming along. All the chapters are written, but some have some gaping holes and notes like CITATION NEEDED. There are elves for those kind of notes, right? Chapter revision and cleanup are not fun projects and I really am not looking forward to it. Mostly, I think, because I will read something and think, “Who wrote this crap? Oh, yeah…”

There should be news about the ALA Unconference 2010 coming soon. Sean Robinson and I have been planning a day filled with some really cool and fun things. Keep your eyes peeled for that, ladies and gents.

Enough rambling. Back to work, everyone.

–Jane, one more cup of coffee before the pot is empty