In which the alchemist posts another infrequent update

I’m starting to wonder if Twitter wouldn’t be a better tool for updating this blog – that way, I could give you little “day in the life” samples from an actual workweek, as opposed to infrequent summaries.  Especially as I’m thinking about starting two more blogs, one professional, one personal.

At any rate, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Eleventh Stack now has a link and a custom flash on the CLP homepage (mouse over to “Discover More” to see!). The results of this placement were noticeable almost immediately: we’ve been getting an extra 20-30 hits per day, and at least 10 new newsreader subscriptions, and I’m hoping that number will continue to grow as more people discover the blog. It also means that yours truly has become much more fussy about edits, updates, and content. I’m thinking it might be a good idea to rotate team leadership once the project reaches the 6-month mark, just to make sure other folks on the team get experience with the coordinator role.

At any rate, I’ve also been writing “how we did it” handouts for the branch managers’ meeting tomorrow. Because I’m a big fan of “open source” projects, I’m including the agendas from the three planning meetings we had, so the branch managers can see exactly what our group process was, and how it fits into the CLP strategic plan, org. structure, etc. There’s also a list of questions branch managers should ask themselves before they start a blog project. These include “How comfortable am I with projects that require uncertainty and experimentation?” and “Am I willing and able to give staff at least 30 minutes per day to blog?”

As usual, I’m also:

  • answering reference questions
  • purchasing for the collection
  • collecting database stats
  • troubleshooting database issues on the fly, with the help of IT
  • sifting through the Library 2.0 blogosphere to keep up with issues and trends

And, on top of that, I’ve just been accepted to present at the PaLA conference this November, so I’m going back through both my blog archives and my project files in order to create the best possible presentation.  I’m really proud to get a chance to show off some of the things our library has done to not only become a 21st-century library, but also to define what that means for us, as opposed to just doing things because they’re shiny and cool.

On a somewhat sad note, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the recent passing of a great librarian, Dr. Amy Knapp, whom I want to be just like, if I ever grow up. In library school, Amy taught fledgling librarians how to search effectively. Outside the classroom, she was a gracious model of library service, warmth, wit, humor, and compassion. In short, she was a blessing to everybody who knew her, and her passing creates an obligation, I think, on the part of the rest of us, to continue the excellent work she began.

And with that, I leave you to return to the reference desk. It’s very quiet tonight, but there are plenty of people in the room, so I’d like to be mindful of them, just in case.


ASIST – Day 4 and final thoughts

I closed out my conference experience with a panel on how some organizations are using blogs and wikis.  Staff buy-in was raised as a concern, but nobody really had any concrete suggestions on how to foster that.  Based on a lot of the theoretical material I’ve heard these last few days, however, I think I’ve got some good ideas.  However, much like the lovably cranky Dr. House, I’ll need a team.  This is your early recruitment heads-up (or warning, if you prefer)!

The speaker at the final plenary session talked a lot about the stewardship aspect of Web 2.0.  As libraries, we are expected to be both cradles of democracy and preservers of culture.  If our audience has taken to the more fluid, interactive structures of the web (and it most assuredly has), then we as good stewards must make a good faith effort to learn their values and speak their language…all the while preserving those structures that are worth retaining.  That’s a tall order, but I have a lot of faith in librarians in general, and in my personal peer set in particular.

I’ll be back at my usual perch in the south wing tomorrow, assembling my notes and preparing my strategies.  Feel free to stop by and say hello, if I don’t come find you first.

ASIST – Day Three

Attended an excellent panel this morning on how scientists are using 2.0 technologies like wikis and blogs to transform their field.  Have jotted down many notes and pointers in hopes that we can use them to build a framework to decide where we want to go as a 2.0 organization.

Also, poster sessions, which are a great way to get an eyeball-snapshot of research trends.  Was most impressed with a study on social capital building in public libraries, which found that many people are still going to the library to try to better themselves, and the range of things they need to know don’t always fall under the traditional categories of what the librarian is there to teach.  More good stuff to chew on.

All work and no play makes for a very dull librarian, so I’m pleased to report that I’ve found two great indie coffeeshops and one excellent used bookstore.  Also, the Central branch of MPL has one of each right inside – how cool is that?   Alas, I have yet to discover good pizza here.  This has inspired a haiku:

Passionate pilgrim

Ardently seeks good pizza.

Fie on thee, chain store!

And with that, off to a late panel.  Tune in tomorrow for the final day of conference notes and thoughts. 

ASIST – Day 2

I attended a number of different panels today, the most interesting of which was about conceptualizing social justice in the information professions.  One of the speakers nailed it neatly on the head; I paraphrase:

  •  Information is power
  • Some people have more power than others
  • Information professionals should be doing something to help people with less power get more power.

You can see why I found this provocative.  Certainly collection development is an area that can facilitate social justice, by these criteria.  So can programming.  What else can we do?  And how can we amp up what we already do to do more/better?

See you tomorrow with more panel highlights.

ASIST – Day 1

The conference proceedings have been given to us on CD-ROM.  I’m still taking notes because I’m a kinesthetic learner.  However, there’s no need to scribble like mad – huzzah!

 There is a need to be concise, however, because guest internet access at the Milwaukee Public Library is limited to 15 min.  Unless, that is, you want to pay $2.00 for a guest card:  2 hours per day for 1 week.  AND the computers automatically log out at 15 minutes to closing.  Just a few things to chew on, my friends!  I can’t really complain, though.  Considering what my hotel’s charging for internet access, I’m grateful for what I’ve got.  It’s a beautiful library, too: Check it out.

At any rate, the panel I attended this afternoon discussed the decline in public liibrary usage between 2000 and 2005. Yes, Virginia, there’s been a decline: 11% down on walk-in visits. Library website browsing is up, however.  Even if we heed Mark Twain’s caveat about statistics, there’s still plenty to chew on here. You really want to see this CD-ROM.

Tonight’s panel will be on building leadership with social networking tools like Facebook. Stay tuned!

Time flies on Fridays

I’ve really been hopping today, juggling projects so I can leave for the ASIS&T conference with a clear desk/conscience! You’ll be hearing more about that next week when I blog from the conference.

For the weekend, though, an ethical question to ponder: how many copies of Mein Kampf does a large public library system need?

Have a great weekend, everybody.

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