I contributed my final post as a regular author this week at ALA TechSource. I must say it makes me a bit emotional but it’s time to move on to focus on other things. I thought I take this chance to point back to some of my favorite posts from the last 5 years of writing at TechSource.
One of my favorite things to do was a “back and forth” interview/discussion style post. Here are some of the best of the best:
- John Blyberg: On the L2 Train | Information Experience
- Michael Casey: Where Do We Begin? | Better Library Services for More People
- Robert Doyle (Illinois Library Association)
- Michael Edson (Smithsonian Institution)
- Michael Golrick | Stacey Greenwell | Christopher Harris | Cliff Landis
And some of my FAVORITE solo posts:
November 2005: Do Libraries Matter: On Library & Librarian 2.0
The library encourages the heart. As we reach out to users, we must remember all of the folks we serve. To me, Library 2.0 will be a meeting place, online or in the physical world, where my emotional needs will be fulfilled through entertainment, information, and the ability to create my own stuff to contribute to the ocean of content out there – the Long Tail if you will. Librarian 2.0, then, will be available to guide me and teach me to use the systems provided by the library to do just that. As Abram said, librarians will provide clarification: Librarians need to position themselves and the library to help with finding the answers to: how? and why?”
February 2006: Are You Dreaming?
That’s where dreaming comes in. Have you had the chance to dream at your library job? Have you had the chance to stop for a minute in the buzz buzz of your routine and think about the future? Are you encouraged to innovate?
If not, then I urge you to do so. And I urge library administrators to encourage dreaming on the job. Formalize it—call your innovation group “Dreamers,” or use the more-grounded moniker “Emerging Technology Committee“. Give ‘em a couple of hours a month to talk emerging trends, about trendspotting, and about creative thinking. Read some cool stuff like Business 2.0 and Wired and ask yourselves, “How might the technologies occuring outside of the library impact library services?”
Why? Because we have the potential to bring about the next big thing. We have the potential to be the leaders as we all move toward a seamless information and knowledge environment.I’d hope my director would be happy if he stopped by my desk and asked, “What are you up to today?” and I replied: “I’m Dreaming.”
July 2006: Flickr + Libraries = SCARY
I ask that you do not make any spur-of-the-moment, reactionary decisions, Flickr’ing Librarians! What I sincerely hope will not happen is the libraries and associations that have started using Flickr will abandon the site because they are scared… come on! Don’t let this type of e-mail campaign derail you. Look at the big picture of how this site and many others are used and can benefit your online presence. Let’s teach our users about the good and bad of online communities, BUT LET’S NOT just close the door and lock it!
To the librarian I once overheard saying, “It is my personal duty to make sure we have no typos on anything!” I must say: Don’t miss the forest for the trees, Dear Lady. Typos can be corrected, especially online, and focusing too much on those little details may lead to missing the big picture. You’re the one that staff may be e-mailing about, while they wait to launch the new wiki, you are still proofing the proposal for the wiki! A nimble organization can move quickly if not mired in proofing, re-proofing, and proofing one more time a policy change, FAQ, or other document.
And don’t get hung up on every minute of your librarians’ time being spent on task or the fact that a group may be watching a YouTube video for a few minutes in the reference office. It happens. I also believe that’s how we learn about these new technologies and the lines between what’s frivolous and what’s a chance to see how a social video-sharing community works and think about how it might impact what libraries do. Employees should take care not to abuse such openness with too much IM, too much personal blogging, or too much flickr surfing. That’s important as well and part of being a professional. The tools do not matter—IMing all day with a buddy or leaning on a reference desk chatting with a friend for 20 minutes is unacceptable.
September 2007: Xanadu & Libraries…Seriously.
I had the honor of giving my “Hyperlinked Library” talk at the prestigious New York Public Library last week. The question-and-answer session following was wonderful: questions about levels of service with technology, reaching out to the under-served who may not have access to newer types of tech and what working in a 2.0 world means to a large library system. I’ve heard that staff are given internal blogs to communicate, and there are some other wonderful digital projects on tap with the new Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship, Josh Greenberg.
December 2007: Internet Years & Dog Years: Remembering Jake
I started Internet training at the St. Joseph County Public Library the same year Jake came to live with me as a 10 month pup. The family that owned him was growing as well, and there was no room for a big Lab puppy with 3 kids and one on the way. So Jake came to Mishawaka and soon found his way into my staff and public classes at SJCPL — nope, Jake never actually made it into the library (although one day he almost did when the Administrators were all off somewhere and we stopped by, but Jake stayed in the car). His presence was so pervasive that a librarian stopped me at a conference in Indianapolis and asked “Is your dog in your presentation this afternoon?”
November 2008: A Commons Experience
The Commons puts students at the center. The idea of student-centered innovation was a theme woven throughout the commons field trips. The commons did not make it any easier for the librarians or to enforce library policies. In fact, Stacey Greenwell of the University was happy to tell me that they made it easier for students to use their cell phones in “the Hub.” “Yes, that’s right—at the Hub we actually installed infrastructure to make it easier for students to use cell phones. We actually encourage cell phone use. Truly the Hub is a No Shushing Zone.”
January 2009: Stories, Open Doors & the Heart
How can we inspire curiosity in our users? How can we be the community center of town, of campus, of the school? In my mind, this is very important – everything we do should encourage our users to think of us when they need help, an escape or a roadmap in a an ever-changing world. Sure, snazzy technology in a beautiful space is sexy and alluring but the purpose behind it should be deeply grounded in a highly refined service ethic and the mission to put information into the hands of those who need it. Art. Music. Space. Technology. Gadgets. Shiny new toys. Rather important as well. Collaboration. Service. Connection. These are the foundations that make everything work so well. Caring and empathy? That’s a given if we want to encourage the heart.
September 2009: Engagement in the LIS Classroom
I’ve seen students’ eyes glaze over in traditional, in-person lectures that I’ve given, and I remember the feeling well from when I was on the other side of the lectern. I’m recalling nights spent in classrooms with adjuncts lecturing endlessly while working on my Masters–so last century…wait, it actually was last century! In recent semesters I’ve worked to limit the length and “ho hum” factor of my lectures, preferring instead to get students talking, acting or creating. Of course, this does depend on how prepared your students are. Hopefully they’ve done their reading or explored the topic beforehand.
February 2010: Finding My Tribe at EDUCAUSE
I’m taking away a lot from three days in Austin, Texas with a tribe of educators and technologists. There was much to incorporate into my teaching and much to share on my own campus. And I’d share this with you, readers: get to one of these conferences or check out the content online. Given the caliber of discussion and the trend-scanning, the long range insights should not be missed by library folk–especially those who work with young people in any capacity, those who teach future librarians, those who work in academic libraries, or those who recognize that technologies on the horizon will be here sooner than we think. Shouldn’t we have a hand in shaping their use in education and beyond?
June 2010: What’s Your Digital Legacy?
More importantly, I think leaving a legacy of good work and caring starts now. Seth Godin urges folks to “be authentic” and I responded to his statement with my own thoughts in an article last year:
“In a time when snark is so easy, Godin urges readers throughout his works and blogging to be authentic – stressing quality over quantity. “There’s no limit now. No limit to how many clicks, readers, followers and friends you can acquire,” he wrote recently at his blog. “Instead of getting better, you focus obsessively on getting bigger.”
Instead, build a trusted network of colleagues and contacts in the digital library world. Share. Cite them when they inspire you. Pay it forward. The wonderful thing is now, these people can reside all over the world. It’s not unusual to have support from The Netherlands, Australia, the United Sates or England with the click clack of a few keys. Be real in these dealings. Be honest. Be yourself.
I think it also sums up what I want for all of us to be remembered for as professionals – that part of our life devoted to our work, to libraries, to the user. Be real. Be authentic. Play nice. Share. Care.”
Looking back at all of these posts reminds me how my thinking about libraries and librarians has evolved over the years. I’m honored to have had the chance to write for ALA TechSource. Thanks to all who read my posts over the years.