ALA Midwinter!

The American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting is rapidly approaching!  I’m attending (as seen by the badge below), and thought I would share my schedule.  I’m a little more scheduled than usual this year, because I’m a new ALA Councilor.  I’m representing my state library association (the Tennessee Library Association) for the next three years.  I’m excited to see what happens on Council and be a part of what makes ALA work.

I’m also excited to take my first trip to Seattle.  I’m hoping it’s not going to be freezing and raining the whole time, but the weather forecast doesn’t look promising.



Eleven years ago today….

Eleven years ago today, I was a junior in college. I was sitting in my class that morning, when the professor’s daughter put her head in and said “a plane hit the World Trade Center”. It was a computer class, so immediately we all started trying to log on to our favorite news sites to see what was going on. None of us could get more than the most basic headline to load. We left class (maybe early, I don’t remember) and I remember joining a crowd of students standing in the university center, staring up at a small television that was showing the footage. We still weren’t sure what had happened exactly. I went on to my next class, where the professor proceeded to inform us that, despite the morning’s events, we were having class as normal. I was grateful for that – it helped keep me for freaking out about it.

I don’t really remember much of the rest of that day. I remember bits and pieces of the weeks and months after… I remember standing again in the university center sometime after and watching President Bush speak, again in a crowd of people. I remember many conversations with my roommates about the state of things, and politics and what we would do if Oak Ridge was attacked (I was in Chattanooga at the time).

I also remember how much I missed having those roommates around when I was in grad school and one of the anniversaries came around. I missed the shared experience of watching the news and talking about it, and of simply having someone there.

I struggle with these kinds of anniversaries. I always have. I can’t bring myself to watch all the dozens of documentaries that have been on television over the last week – it’s too intense and too much voyeurism for me to watch the something like the special made up of the phone calls of those who were on the planes and in the towers. Those conversations were meant for their loved ones, not me. The same with the other specials. I still remember and see the footage clearly in my mind. I don’t need to relive those moments.

So, today I will be scarce on social media and try not to listen too closely to NPR on my commute and I will think especially of those who lost a loved one today and honor this day in my own quiet way.

Getting Involved

How to get involved, networking and other related topics have been on my mind lately.  Getting involved in library associations can seem intimidating, difficult and confusing, but it’s not as hard as it might appear.  If you look around this site, you might notice that under Professional Activities I’ve had a pretty busy couple of years.  I’ve been heavily involved in my state library organizations and also in ALA committee work.  If you’re like me, you look at people who are so involved and go “How do they do that?” or “How can I get involved?”.  I want to tell you how I got here.

In 2006, just before I started at my current job, I made a few professional resolutions.  These were the result of a conversation with a friend of mine who is perpetually challenging me (and others, I’m sure) to do better and do more.  One of those resolutions led me to this position!  Another one led to my increased activity in library related organizations.   Of course, that’s not to say it was an immediate thing (see my post about “stupid conferences” and my lack of networking skills).  One of the first steps I made was to start submitting program proposals to my state library association.  That helped to get my name out there and to encourage other people to approach me (the Speaker ribbon is a great conversation starter at a conference!).  (Want to see my follow-up resolutions? They’re here)

Another thing I did that helped with the national conferences was to get involved with the Library Society of the World.  This group of librarians from around the world (literally) gave me a great group of people to look for at national conferences and helped ease my “networking” pain.  By allowing us to meet virtually and communicate nearly every day, the LSW allows librarians to get to know one another and “meat” each other at conferences.  That means that we already know each other and can pick up where we left off when we see one another in person!  The person I don’t recognize isn’t really a stranger!  This group has been an amazing help to me at conferences – it’s a good sized group, which also means that there’s nearly always someone to hang out with, talk to, or go to dinner with.

So after I started meeting people at the state and national conferences, I started getting asked to do things!  Since many of our organizations are volunteer-run, they’re desperate for people to do things.  So, many times, all you have to do is show up and say yes!  So I did.  Now, I’m trying to learn to say No!

Just because an organization is run by volunteers doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to be run well.  Just because you’ve said “yes” doesn’t mean that your commitment has ended there.  Volunteer organizations need quality work, just like your place of work.  So…say “yes’ and do your best work!  (you can see how it’s easy to get over-extended, right?)

After such a busy couple of years, I’ve decided to practice saying “No” for a little while. I ‘m starting to feel the pain of burn-out, and that’s not where I want to be.  So I’m scaling back on new commitments and trying to focus on balancing my life a little better.  I’m going to stay involved, but I’m also going to work on my hobbies – sewing, gardening, etc.  I’m also going to try to increase my involvement in my community.   I’d like to pick up my Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity volunteering and maybe meet some new people who aren’t librarians!

SOPA, PIPA and protests

So there’s all kinds of stuff going around right now about SOPA and PIPA and RWA.  I’m glad to see that heavy hitters on the internet like Wikipedia are paying attention to Congress.  I’m hopeful that RWA will get similar responses, but it’s not looking likely.

I wanted to draw some attention to what the Library Society of the World is doing, particularly.  Iris and Steve have created Protest Coupons to leave at the ALA Midwinter booths of the vendors that Andy has identified as supporters of SOPA/PIPA. However, I will not be at Midwinter, so the coupons aren’t going to work for me.  So I made a postcard.  I’m working on getting a way for people to click and send postcards, but I’ve had actual work stuff come up 🙂  So, hopefully by the end of the day I’ll have that worked out.

I encourage you to print out the coupons if you’re going to ALA Midwinter or the postcards if you’re not and send them to the vendors who are supporting these bills. 

Also, be sure to contact your congress people and let them know how you feel!  Congressional support seems to be dropping for SOPA, but PIPA (the Senate version) still has support.

On that note, I also want to point out this post from Read Write Web about what Joe Brockmeier wishes people were saying about SOPA/PIPA and congressional actions.  The gist is: Americans are unaware of congressional actions until someone points them out.  The mainstream media aren’t going to be pointing out things like SOPA/PIPA because they are supporters of the bill.  So, it’s up the the American public to keep up with Congress on their own.  Check on your Congressional reps regularly!  Write to them often!  We are a democracy and those only work with an educated population that is willing to speak up!  So SPEAK UP!  (and not just about SOPA/PIPA).


Library Day in the Life #7

I wasn’t really going to participate in this round of Library Day in the Life posts, but I changed my mind…so, here goes!  I was on vacation all week last week, so this one is a little more email intensive than most (maybe)

8am – arrive, check with Collection Management Librarian about the link to the library catalog on our website.  Our OPAC server is getting upgraded this week, so we’ll be linking to WorldCat while the catalog is unavailable.  She confirmed the switch, so I updated the website.

8:30am to 10:30am– start digging through the 100+ emails that arrived while I was out of the office last week.  I was keeping an eye on things while I was out, but many of the emails either had to do with things that didn’t affect me or things that I couldn’t do anything about while out of the office.

Make some updates to the library’s website to reflect recent changes in our electronic resources.

Stop to talk to the Education faculty liaison, who stopped by to grab a book.  We talked about the recent release of our allocations budget (and the unpleasant surprises there) and also the possibility of her going back to school for ELL stuff.  Also, she told me who to talk to about the possibility of teaching the Education Technology course here once I’ve finished my M.Ed.  Woot!

Dug out some more emails, answered those, talked to a couple of vendors about existing resources and possible changes to some journal subscriptions.

Worked with a colleague at the local public library to get a webinar scheduled this week as part of Learn & Discover, which I’m chairing again this year.   I’m pretty excited about this webinar, and I hope it gets a good response.

Sent out registration information about a new resource for some of our faculty.

Received trial information for several databases that a faculty member had requested while I was out.  Added them to the library’s website.

11am – 12:30pm Emailed our project manager in PR about the updated library website and some questions I have about it.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to go live with it soon.

Finalized details on the webinar for Learn & Discover and scheduled the test run for the presenters.  Started the PR machine for the webinar as well.

Updated the library’s LibGuides and worked on the new site some.

Worked with the librarian now in charge of scheduling our information literacy sessions to ensure that I know when my classes are scheduled.

12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch!

1:30 pm – 4:30pm chat with Reference Coordinator about what she’d like to do about several pages on the library’s website.  Reminded her of interface change that means a tutorial needs to be updated.

Scheduled meeting with the website committee to preview the updated website.

Chatted with a professor about her subject guide, how to edit it, and some new databases and some of the changes to their subscriptions.

Emailed a vendor about a new subscription.

Called an advisee back about questions left on voicemail.

Worked briefly on the state library association conference.  (I’m co-chair of the program planning committee).

Updated and tidied up the library’s YouTube account in preparation for using the videos on the updated website.

Added video tutorials to the updated website.

Added links to our new LibGuides to the updated website

Helped colleague with a LibGuide issue.

4:30pm – one last check of email and then…. Go home!

SCORE Southeastern Regional Rural Education Summit

 Last week, while I was on vacation (doing homework, mostly), I also attended one day of the Southeastern Regional Rural Education Summit at Lipscomb University.  As part of attending, I submitted a summary to my M.Ed. professor for class credit.  I decided to share the summary with you too.

The Rural Education Summit was an interesting discussion of the issues facing rural education today. The Summit made excellent use of Twitter throughout the day, both by projecting the search results for the hashtag (#ruralsummit) on the screen and by allowing the audience to participate by tweeting questions that were then asked of the panel.  You can check out some of the comments and questions here:!/search/%23ruralsummit.  Some of the websites that were mentioned today are here:


I feel like I learned a great deal about the issues facing rural education.  The attendees and presenters agreed that some of the main issues were the recruitment and retention of teachers to rural areas, the emphasis (or lack thereof) on the connection between education and job preparedness, and the impact that professional development has on rural teachers especially.  The first two panels focused primarily on the connection between education and employment opportunities, with Kevin Huffman (TN Department of Education commissioner) and Bill Hagerty (TN Department of Economics & Community Development commissioner) on the first panel.  The second panel was much larger, but had a similar focus, with more discussion of the vital connection between education and employment.


The breakout sessions I attended included Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Training and Using Technology for Teacher Professional Development.  The first breakout session, Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Training, was an interesting panel discussion that also covered many of the questions from the audience.  The panel discussed what can be done to improve recruitment for school districts, how school districts can retain teachers (which might not be as big a problem as originally thought) and how to improve professional development for teachers.  All of the panelists provided concrete advice and data.  The second breakout session, Using Technology for Teacher Professional Development, was an interesting look at several projects that the National Research Center on Rural Education Support is working on.  The projects included Targeted Reading Intervention – reading intervention for grades K-3, done entirely online, Rural Early Adolescent Learning – a program to help middle schools students retain their desire to learn, and Enhancing Rural Online Learning – a project to help students taking AP classes via distance education to have support similar to what they would have in a regular classroom.


The third panel discussion was made up of “breakthrough rural educators”.  The panel members were all award winning teachers or representatives from rural districts doing innovative things for their students.  There were several interesting programs discussed, including e4TN and the GEAR UP grant.


Today’s Summit was my first foray into education conference attendance, and I really did learn quite a bit.  It’s always an interesting experience to attend something as an outsider.  The breakout sessions I attended also helped cement the thought that teacher professional development is a vital and rapidly-changing part of the education landscape, and it is where my primary education interests lie.

ALA 11 Wrapup

I returned to work last Wednesday after ALA, and, of course, it’s been one thing after another since then 🙂  But I promised a conference wrap-up, so here goes!

Every time I attend ALA, I always feel like I didn’t attend enough sessions.  This year, I went to six sessions.  Which isn’t so bad, I guess…Most of those sessions were on the same topic – discovery layers.  I’m actually really glad I went to so many discovery layer sessions.  We’re considering purchasing one (still in the *very* early stages), but the mix of information covered in the sessions I attended gave me a better idea of what questions I should be asking, when we start talking to vendors.

There were two sessions I found very helpful:  Usability of Next Gen Interfaces and The Age of Discovery: Understanding Discovery Services, Federated Search and Web Scale.  The usability study, done by a single librarian at the University of Colorado, was very interesting.  I was glad to see that he was able to test multiple products and that he wasn’t sponsored by a vendor.  I felt like that gave him a better opportunity to get more useful data from the study.  I look forward to reading more about this study, and I hope that he has plans to continue this type of study.

The Age of Discovery session was very helpful in giving me a better handle on what, exactly, a discovery layer is, and how it differs from federated search and web scale.  It was helpful to have someone there from Deep Web Technologies as well to remind us all that federated searching can sometimes be the right tool for what we’re trying to do.

There were a couple of sessions that I attended that were not about discovery products, and those were also very useful.  I attended Taking Your Workshops to the Web and Goin’ Mobile: We Did It and You Can Too.  Taking Your Workshops to the Web was very helpful in giving me a better idea of what webinars, online workshops and online courses should look like.  I’m currently the chair of the Workshops Committee for one of our state-wide library organizations, and I found this (and the discussion of the various products available) to be very helpful.    There were lots of helpful tips for what kind of information to provide to attendees and how to help presenters .  The two speakers overlapped quite a bit, but there was good information from both of them.

The Goin’ Mobile session was very good (and an excellent example of a session aimed at public libraries, but useful to all).  We are just beginning to consider a mobile site at MPOW, and it was good to hear someone talk about their design process and what sorts of things were included in the mobile site (and why).

Besides conference sessions, there were lots of excellent meals and time with great friends.  Also, I apparently volunteered myself for more committee work!  🙂  (oops!)  I also took some time to wander around in the French Quarter and see a bit of New Orleans.  I’m glad to have finally made it to New Orleans, and will probably be going back for a short vacation in the future!

One other thing that I learned at this conference was that now that I have (finally) joined the smart phone crowd, it’s a great relief not to have to lug the laptop around all day.  I was able to do nearly everything I needed to on my phone, which makes me consider not even taking the laptop to the next ALA I attend.  We’ll see!

It’s that time again!

I can’t believe it’s here (and I’m tired already, just thinking about it!), but ALA 2011 starts on Friday!  I’ll be heading out Friday morning, with a mid-afternoon arrival in New Orleans.   As usual, my calendar is entirely impossible! Send me a message if you’d like to meet up.  I’ll hopefully be tweeting and such a bit more than usual while I’m at the conference.

And this year, I resolve to actually post a conference wrap-up instead of just thinking a lot about posting one 🙂

NOLA Attending

I'm Attending ALA 2011

Another poem

So, I just realized that apparently Marge Piercy speaks to me….Another of her poems is one of my Facebook profile quotes.  I’ll put it here in it’s entirety.  Again, I have a work colleague to thank for this one, and it continues to speak to me.


To Be Of Use


The people I love the best

jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows

and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

the black sleek heads of seals

bouncing like half-submerged balls.


I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

who do what has to be done, again and again.


I want to be with people who submerge

in the task, who go into the fields to harvest

and work in a row and pass the bags along,

who are not parlor generals and field deserters

but move in a common rhythm

when the food must come in or the fire be put out.


The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums

but you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

and a person for work that is real.


–Marge Piercy