or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


LISEvents – Check It Out

   April 28th, 2011 Brian Herzog

LISEvents logoIn case you missed the announcement on other sites, a new great way to stay involved in libraryland is LISEvents.

The site is easy to use, both for finding events by date or location (including online-only), and for finding someone to come speak at your library or event.

The best part is that it is community-driven, and adding events is easy - I just added a posting for the NELA-ITS workshop on mobile devices and libraries (also here).

And for anyone wanting to get their name out, be sure to register yourself as a speaker. This portion of the site will be a great resource for event planners, and anyone who has something to share.

Thanks Blake for putting this together - the library world perpetually benefits from the tools you maintain.



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Upcoming Events of Note

   February 3rd, 2011 Brian Herzog

Save the DateJust a few quick blurbs on some upcoming events that caught my eye - the first two for Boston-area people, and the third for all of New England:

MobileCampBoston
I seem to be all about mobile technology lately - and MobileCampBoston is a day-long event devoted to it. The day looks organized into three tracks - Programming, Design, and Business/Marketing, so attendees can focus on their area of interest. Should be a great day of learning, and best of all, it's free.

Boston Radical Reference: Volunteer at the Community Change Library
Members of Boston Radical Reference will be volunteering at the Community Change library, which houses some of the best sources of information on racism in the United States. The plan is to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the collection, going book by book, to catch errors in the catalog, determine subject areas in which to expand, and identify books that need repair.

NELA-ITS Spring Workshop
I'm part of the IT Section of the New England Library Association, and we're designing this year's Spring Workshop to address the intersection of mobile technology and libraries. We're still working out the details, but the overall plan is to devote the morning to a sort of "state of things/orientation" as far as libraries and mobile tech goes, then lunch, and then an afternoon panel of librarians demo'ing ways they're using mobile tech in their own libraries. If you've never been to an NELA-ITS workshop before, they're a good time, and very focused on practical information.

I'll be at all three of these events - if you see me, please say hi.



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Upcoming Book Conferences

   October 12th, 2010 Brian Herzog

For those in New England, the coming weeks have a few book-related conferences worth attending. I'll definitely be at the first two, but not sure about the third:

Boston Book Festival logoBoston Book Festival - Saturday, October 16th
The Boston Book Festival is a day-long event, filled with talks from authors and illustrators and others in the book field. All the events are around Copley Square in Boston, and everything is free. I'm going to try to see Chipp Kidd, Bill Bryson, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeff Kinney, and anyone else I can find - not to mention renew my library card at the BPL.

NELA2010 logoNew England Library Association 2010 Annual Conference - Oct 17 - 19th
This year's NELA conference is in Boxborough, MA, and should be a good time (as always). Highlights (for me) are the talk on censorship by Joe Raiola (senior Editor of MAD magazine), seeing Ethan Zuckerman again, a talk on Open Source ILS' by Stephanie Chase and Pamela Soren Smith - and I'll be doing a poster session on library website mashups.

Why Books logoWhy Books? - Oct 28 -29th
Hosted by Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, "'Why Books?' probes the form and function of the book in a rapidly changing media ecology. Speakers from a variety of disciplines—literature and history to sociology and computer science—will discuss the public-policy implications of new media forms and will explore some of the major functions that we identify with books today: production and diffusion; storage and retrieval; and reception and use."

Busy busy busy. And if you're ever looking for a book-related event, remember to check out LibraryThing.com/local for events in your area - and also add your library's events there for more exposure.



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Conference Twittering v. Blogging

   June 16th, 2009 Brian Herzog

twitter logoA quick recap of my experiment to both twitter and blog the CMS Day workshop last week: I didn't like it.

And interestingly, while catching up with rss that night, I read Librarian by Day very nicely summing up everything I didn't like about it.

Blogging a conference is how I take notes for myself during the sessions - I don't know if it's helpful to anyone else, but it is to me, and I put it out there just in case someone else is curious. But twittering a conference ultimately felt like a series of inside jokes that only people at the conference would get.

Don't get me wrong - the conference was great, which is why I was trying to share it. So perhaps it is my lack of tweet skills, but it didn't seem that 140 characters, without the context of the conference, is very helpful (other than a laugh or two).

I'm still new to this, so forgive me if this observation has already been made: it occurred to me that twittering is the metadata of life. I can describe the conference or what I'm doing at any random moment, but it's still just a description of something else. Metadata absolutely serves a purpose, but when it comes to conferences, maybe the most useful tweets are those that point to resources available elsewhere (or that are humorous one-liners).

Or, perhaps more likely, I'm just doing it wrong.



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NELA2008 Session Highlights

   October 23rd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Ethan ZuckermanI was at the NELA 2008 conference this week, and spent yesterday and today going over my notes and trying to get caught up. Lots of good stuff, but here are a few of the highlights from the sessions I attended:

Ethan Zuckerman
If you ever have a chance to see Ethan Zuckerman speak, do it. Not only is he interesting and entertaining, but his work using technology to bridge cultural divides directly relates to what we do in libraries. He also approaches things from a global "big picture" viewpoint, which is a nice change from my generally myopic "what's going on in my community" point of view. I learned a lot from Ethan, both library-related and otherwise - read the complete notes from his "The Internet is NOT Flat" session.

Men in the Library
Being a male, I was curious about Nancy Davis' program called "The Vanishing Male: Guy Stuff That Lures and Hooks." It was a discussion about why men generally use the library less than women, and what libraries can do to attract more male patrons:

  • Men are "seekers" and not "browsers" - they want to go in, get their stuff, and leave. Libraries should have signage that caters to this, and be more open, so men don't have to wander around looking or ask for help
  • Book groups don't work for a lot of men because men don't like "sharing" - to get men to a book group, have it "led" by a scholar or other authority (male book groups prefer non-fiction books), and that way the men feel they're getting something out of it
  • For programming ideas, try anything tool-based, such as "greening" your house, installing solar panels, bike repair & maintenance, etc. Men also like father/son programs, like building a bird house or a "dads and donuts" story time early Saturday morning
  • To get guys to come to programs, promote them in places where guys go: the hardware store, the transfer station, etc.
  • Also, make sure you have men on your staff and on your board of trustees - it's easier to attract males if they feel comfortable in the building, and book displays are more likely to appeal to them if the books are chosen by other guys

NOTE: Keep in mind that most of these are generalizations

Genealogy Core Collection
Cindy O'Neil, a certified genealogist with the Manchester (NH) City Library, explained the resources she felt were essential for libraries to offer their patrons doing genealogical research. Her handout was a bibliography important genealogy resources, and I tried to include as many of them as possible in my session notes on the NELA conference blog. Definitely worth checking out and comparing to your resources.

Of course I got a lot more out of the conference, but these were the things that stuck with me that I wouldn't have gotten if I didn't go. A lot more information on the other sessions are available on the NELA 2008 conference blog.

Update: I don't know how I could have left this out: For people wanting a real hands-on demo of how to very quickly improve their library's website, Lichen Rancourt's presentation on how she converted the Manchester (NH) City Library's website from static to Library 2.0 is a must see. Even while working within the City's content management package (which means these changes apply to any website management tool), she brought the real spirit, vibrancy and interactivity of the physical library to the website. The improvements include a flickr badge, a WordPress blog feed for up-to-date news and information, and an events feed.



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Conference Blogging

   October 21st, 2008 Brian Herzog

NELA2008 registration tableRight now I'm in Manchester, NH, for the 2008 NELA conference. In addition to being an attendee and a speaker, I'm also blogging the sessions I attend for the NELA conference blog (read my posts).

This year there are ten volunteer bloggers, and I think it's great -

  • great that NELA is supporting a blog
  • great that people volunteer to contribute
  • great that the notes we take during sessions are available for all attendees, people who couldn't come, trustees who need to see these things, and anyone else who is interested

There are lots of worthwhile conferences and workshops every year, and I go to very few of them. I think it's important for these conferences to extend beyond the conference dates and facility to reach the people who can't come. Considerations for "virtual attendance" seems to be getting more common, in fits and starts, but I think it'll happen.

Along these lines, RUSA has recently asked a small group of librarians to look at this very issue. The goal of this task force is to recommend

a suite of technology-based approaches to virtual membership, virtual attendance at conference, podcasting or videocasting conference programs, the creation of webinars to be hosted by RUSA, and a range of other approaches that would provide resources to our members – both those that attend conference and those for whom conference attendance is a barrier to participation.

Now this is an organization moving in the direction of its members. Thank you, RUSA. I'm not sure what the end result of the task force will be, but just the fact that a large, member-based organization like this is paying attention to the needs of its members is a step in the right direction.

And hopefully, once RUSA develops and implements a good model, it will spread to the rest of the ALA.

But for the time being, don't be afraid to let your consortia, library associations, or other conference groups know what works and doesn't work for you, and where your needs are and aren't being met. That's the best way to get the resources tailored to our needs.

Update: I forgot to mention that the Internet Librarian conference is also going on right now - check out blog posts tagged with il2008 on google blog search.



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