Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


October in Monterey!

Is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine! But for an instruction librarian, an impossible dream. Unless.. unless… Unless Internet Librarian accepts both a pre-conference workshop and a conference session from you. In which case, you better show up!

And this, this is my burden.

I will be putting together a pre-conference entitled “Dance Dance Library Evolution” with seven other twitter friends: Laura Carscaddon (U of Arizona), Colleen Harris (UT Chattanooga), Kenley Neufeld (Santa Barbara City College), Kate Sheehan (Darien Library), Courtney Stephens (Belmont University), Cindi Trainor (Eastern Kentucky University), Jezmynne Westcott (The Claremont Colleges). If I were a better blogger, I would link to all their blogs, but, alas, not tonight!

Today’s librarian must be nimble and fast-moving.  Nine librarians from different parts of the country and different areas of librarianship will demonstrate what is emerging in their libraries and in their lives today:  hot technologies, social networking and services and tools for users. You will enjoy this fast-paced and engaging lightning-round session from nine Twitter friends who are using these technologies to move themselves and their libraries beyond 2.0 and ahead of the curve.

Colleen Harris and I will also be presenting in the Learning track: 2.0 Learning & 1.8 Users: Bridging the Gap

For many instruction librarians, the challenge of Library 2.0 isn’t the technology, it’s the users. Despite the extreme 2.0 savvy attributed to the Millennials in the buzz that dominated early 2.0 reports, the media is finally catching up to what many instruction librarians have known all along: The Google Generation may need some help moving from passive consumer to active participant in the read/write web. Join two academic library instruction librarians for a discussion of challenges in and suggestions for bringing students, professors, librarians, and IT staff onto page 2.0 and why doing so is an important first step in bringing about Library 2.0 services and technologies our communities can embrace.

This will be my first Internet Librarian, but by all accounts this is a great conference, one of the ones where every session is just great. It’s also one of those wonderful opportunities for tech folks to get together with public services folks and talk to each other about the magic we can make happen when we work together.  If it’s anything like Computers in Libraries was, the out-of-session conversations were so great they deserved a program track all to themselves!

Will I see you there?


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long time gone

Hello readers!

Sorry to have been away for so long! I took some time for myself after the conference and have had a most lovely explosion of chaos break out that will probably keep me blog-quiet through midsummer.

But never fear, there is still hope!I have a post buzzing around back of my head about customer service (no thanks to freshpair, who I am now boycotting, and with thanks to TimeWarner, who came through big time), and I’m working on articulating my focus. I’ve been thinking about budgets and what they say about libraries and how we value education. And the value of expert-created taxonomy tagging on top of LCSH for improved searchability… Not to mention my vacation to Nashville will surely inspire some cross cultural thinking, because this midwestern gal has never spent any free time south of Mason-Dixon, and I’m sure it will be interesting!

So you might hear from me before July ends. Add me to your feed reader but please don’t forget about me! Oh, and keep your fingers crossed!


Whew! Conference over! What’s next?

Well, SUNYLA 2008 at Potsdam has been put to rest, and so have I! I no longer have the ability to just keep functioning on 5 hours of sleep a night over time. Two nights of recovery sleep and one science fiction romance later, I am feeling like a human again!

The conference was great, the flicker stream is here. I promise you, you’ve never seen a library conference like this before! In addition to sessions, we also had a drum circle, a talent night, a karaoke dance party, game night, a barbecue at the riverside, and the discovery of a pool table on campus (hello roving reference!). SUNY librarians lay to rest any myths about boring, timid, shy, withdrawing tendencies in the profession! And I really enjoy these people! SUNY is a deeply overburdened, underfunded system, but it attracts some great people that I enjoy getting to see once or twice a year.

While the gale force winds that swept through the area the day before made getting here a bit difficult, they cleared out the humidity and the rain and we had beautiful weather for the event. Turnout was good, (although the classrooms dwarfed the number attendees, making presenting a little intimidating! so many empty seats!). I learned that my library is far better equipped for the electronic age than anywhere else on campus — we may have fewer outlets than students want or need, but campus has several 200 seat lecture halls with only TWO outlets in the entire room! Data ports have been run along the tabletops, but not power. How can we move into the digital age if we can’t support student computing in the classroom? What good are the data lines when the students can’t plug into them?

I had a lot on my plate at the conference, including giving my own talk about my assessment of teaching and learning as a speaker on a set of panels I put together. I facilitated an activity in our member survey that went very well (‘wouldn’t it be nice if SUNYLA…’, borrowed from LOEX), and facilitated the resuscitation of the SUNYLA Library instruction committee. The membership expressed a commitment to keeping it alive, albeit in a different form, and we will be making some big changes. I haven’t reported back to the organization yet, so that’s really all I can say about it here, but I am happily surprised that the group decided to stay alive, and made a commitment to doing the work. In many ways the value of a group is shown in how many folks pitch in; I’m glad I came up with a forum for folks to feel comfortable and empowered to make the changes they want and need to make.

Yesterday I also went to a meeting of the local AAUW chapter, and am trying to figure out if AAUW is an organization I should get involved with. They do good stuff. I wonder if I could just donate the membership amount and that might be put to better use, since I’m not sure I can put anything else on my plate right now. They also would fulfill that “community involvement” space on my annual report for promotion and tenure, which only holds my Co-op committee right now. (is that too mercenary?) I’ll hold off on making that decision until the end of summer, because big changes may be afoot in my life between now and then!

So, all that’s left to do now for the summer is:

  • Deal with the budget. It’s bad, quite possibly very very bad. By all appearances it will be the worst case scenario (state level), but we still don’t know if it will be the worst case worst case scenario; that depends on how SUNY and the campus deal with the situation. I just wonder how long we can hold off on renewals; I’d like the decision to take all the cuts out of the monograph budget to be something we discuss and make a decision about, not just be the only money that hasn’t been committed yet, and so the fall guy for the deficit. Not sure that will be possible, though.
  • Work with the Women’s Studies program to lay my hands on their departmental library. It has been promised to the Library, I just haven’t taken action on that yet. There are also several boxes of books from the former Chair that I need to look over and take into our collection. The WGS library liaison and I also need to formalize some stuff for next year. Things will be very different next year, and I feel the need to move more of the selection to the program faculty and have less of it depend on me.
  • Leadership. I’d like to finish some of the facilitation stuff I’ve been scanning in prep for the conference, and I’ve got the Fifth Discipline sitting on my shelf demanding some attention
  • My article. My collaborative article. Writing with another person, in another discipline, will be an interesting challenge. It helps, though, when that collaborator has a gorgeous home on the Lake for us to meet at for two day collaboration sessions!
  • Make real the changes my LIC decided upon. I almost forgot that part!
  • Read and Review Our New Public, A Changing Clientèle
  • Take a vacation in Nashville!

There’s more (there will be discussion here about the greasemonkey plugin project, I promise!), but I just got really stressed out! I’m going to head out to my favorite farm stand and buy the fixings to make some delicious food for the week — I’m thinking something with barley or wheat berries maybe? –and start looking into fun things to do in Nashville the week after next! After going flat out since early April, I deserve a leisurely Sunday, don’t I?

Happy Sunday, happy summer, and happy Father’s Day all!

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SUNYLA: We’re all in this together – Consortial vending

So, I’m now trying to live blog and not kill myself with trying to blog post-conference. I’m at SUNYLA, being hosted on my home campus.

Julia Gammon Someone from OHIOLink is discussing Cooperative Collective Development (this is the second part of this morning’s resource sharing pre-conference).

Focusing on using a consortial vendor. in this case YBP.

  • force consortial agenda
  • clout – get what you want 9Not bought in Ohio lists…(like that worked fro SUNY with Ex Libris’ universal lending module. Not!)
  • Favorable discounts

But, what about used materials? Small vendors? Can YBP really get you everything you need? Wouldn’t this serious vanilla-ize the state collections?

Clearly, cooperative CD depends on having a tool that indicates what everyone has bought. But does that tool have to be the vendor profile? I’d think it wold be better to allow campuses to purchase from whomever they wanted and have the comparative data live in an ILS of some sort. Is this the failure of the ILS system (or, is this correlate to the Universal borrowing module we had asked Ex Libris to build for us?)? Can we (SUNY) require all our purchases to go through YBP? and doesn’t that seem to violate any principle of competition??

I have somuch hope for cooprative collection development, bt the conversatiosn e are having today seem to be hitting more of my anxieties than my excitements… more on that later.

Also, OCLC is beta-ing some great consortia-wide circ and ILL data to help with purchasing optimal number of books, and also to help determine what isn’t circulating and should/could be archived. Still determining optimal number of a title to archive.



Thought for the day:

Facilitators lead groups by providing tools and methods to help group members work productively together

Facilitators do not determine a group’s vision and purpose; that is the leader’s role

Leaders seek to inspire action and commitment so that a vision will be realized, or at least progress will be made

(from Fran Rees, The Facilitator Excellence Handbook, (1998) p. 17)

This is where my head will be for the next two days.

I can definitely see that above statement as true (and I am very clear that  will be facilitating my committee towards a purpose, not leading them there), but what I’m spinning over and inside out about are these questions:

Are the two never needed in the same place, the same person? Is there not a time and a place for a person to have both skill sets?

Which encompasses the more desirable skill set for a successful career doing what I love to do? I don’t want to be a Director/Dean/University Librarian, but I want to inspire folks to works towards goals and visions that I am passionate about! And I also want to help folks get there and not be standing firm and immobile on my perspective.

what does that quote do for you? do you facilitate or lead? which do you aspire towards? which garners more of your respect?


Pecha Kucha, not so mucha

I may be getting myself in trouble with my twitterstream here, or possibly get my acceptance to speak at Internet Librarian revoked, but I will out myself anyway:  I am not a fan of pecha kucha.

For those who have not yet been exposed to this little wave taking over library land, it’s a presentation, or series of presentations. Speakers go 20 by 20, twenty slides twenty seconds each. The slides are supposed to be artistic and metaphorical, and the content is supposed to hit the high notes. (Computers in Libraries 2008 pecha kucha video is available over at Open Stacks)

I get that bad powerpoint is painful. I get that speakers reading their presentation, word for word, is enervating. And I also get that pecha kucha is really entertaining to sit through.

But I think, at it’s core, pecha kucha is anti-intellectual.  It’s ideas without content, all in broad strokes and generalizations. It feels more about the pretty slides than the meat of the matter. And while I like big ideas, and I like being entertained, I also really like the stuff of the stuff. I’m a details gal. I want the details. Conferences without the details? are twinkies. and ho hos. I like my conference sessions to be … a little more. Heirloom tomatoes sliced over fresh buffalo mozzarella and drizzled with EVOO, balsamic vinegar and chiffonade of basil, with just a touch of grey salt. Simple ingredients simple presented, savory, worth sitting down and taking your time with. The details have been lovingly chosen and carefully crafted into the whole dish, and good people have been invited to sit down around the table and luxuriate in the bounty before them.

Doesn’t that sound like a conference session worth attending?

Pecha kucha supporters — what am I missing? I’ve watched two, I’ve made one, and I just don’t get it. Is it more than an entertaining trend? tell me what you love about the rapid chatter, either as speaker or audience.

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Adobe AIR?

note to self: Adobe AIR. What’s going on? What’s Adobe getting for giving this away for nothing? Privacy implications? Why have I installed it on two of my four computers when I am worrying about this? Am I some sort of anti open source curmudgeon for worrying about this?

thoughts? links? comment them below, or you can for:rudyleon them to me at

After June 15, expect some more developed thoughts on this front.