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


Bookcrossing Unconvention 2010

   August 10th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Bookcrossing logoI have been using the website Bookcrossing for awhile, and really like the idea (their slogan "make the world a library" is pretty rad, too). So I was sad to find out they're having an unconvention in Boston on a weekend that I work.

In case you're interested, here are the details:

Bookcrossing North America Unconvention, Boston, August 13-15, 2010

Every year, the official anniversary convention attracts Bookcrossers from all over the world. In 2010, this official anniversary convention took place in Amsterdam.

But for bookcrossers who want to stay closer to home, and for some especially enthusiastic bookcrossers who may want to attend more than just one convention, the Unconvention was invented.

The Unconvention is a more casual gathering, with an emphasis on socializing with fellow bookcrossers. So come to Boston from the 13th to the 15th of August 2010 for some great bookish fun.

We have a great place lined up for our Boston UnConvention. We've arranged with Hostelling International Boston to stay at their Commonwealth Avenue location in Kenmore Square, which will serve as the centre for all Unconvention activities.

We'd be glad to see you there. Come share your enthusiasm for traveling books, promoting literacy, and the fun of random finds with other Bookcrossers, and enjoy activities that are planned for the Unconvention.

Optional Preconvention Activities
Friday, August 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Preconvention: Salem Tour
Preconvention: Independent Bookstores Tour

Icebreaker Activities
Friday, August 13, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Book-themed icebreaker game
Yankee-themed yankee swap

Friday Evening
Friday, August 13, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Informal dinner and mingling

UnConvention Program
Saturday, August 14, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m
Welcome from Boston Bookcrossers
Brunonia Barry - Author of “The Lace Reader”
News from Support – What’s happening at Bookcrossing?
Bookcrosser Badgerjim - A few words from BC in DC re: 2011 10 Year Anniversary Convention
Wrap-up by Boston Bookcrossers

Saturday Lunch
Saturday, August 14, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, August 14, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Freedom Trail Release Walk
Visit the Boston Public Library

Saturday, August 14, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
UnConvention Dinner at Fajitas 'N' Ritas
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Presents: Othello

Sunday, August 15, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Farewell Brunch, reverse scavenger hunt prizes. Raffle

For more about the Unconvention, and for Registration Information: http://www.uncon2010boston.com/home/

Registration Fee: $55
includes Friday evening food, Saturday morning catered breakfast, Saturday lunch, and Saturday snacks.

Friday pre-convention activities and the cocktail party: $30
Friday cocktail party: $20
Saturday events: $32

Find out more about the Boston Bookcrossing's Meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/bookcrossing-195/ Feel free to drop in at any scheduled Meeting of the group, and enjoy the company of bookcrossers!

And in somewhat related news, be sure to also check out this year's PodCamp Boston, September 25-26, 2010.



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OLC Cancels 2009 Conference

   July 23rd, 2009 Brian Herzog

OLC 2009 not-conferenceSadly, the Ohio Library Council announced Monday that it was canceling its 2009 annual conference. The reason:

OLC staff learned last week in a survey of library directors that very few libraries will have the funds to send library staff to this event. In light of the recent developments in the state’s public library funding and the drastic adjustments that all libraries have been making to their operations, the OLC made the most fiscally-responsible route for both members and the organization.

Considering Ohio's financial situation, cancellation does seem the most sensible course. But it is still unfortunate, because meeting and learning from other librarians is very valuable in our profession.

But also unfortunate is that the "mainstream" library world still hasn't adopted an alternative to the large conference. The OLC announcement states they are "exploring several different education alternatives, including regional and electronic options," and this situation illustrates why these avenues are important.

Librarycamps and unconferences can be every bit as practical and valuable as big conferences - and far less expensive. RUSA has been investigating e-participation, and I hope it catches on.

I was slated to be part of a library blogger panel at the conference, and I'm sorry to miss an opportunity to spend time with Ohio librarians. The state's budget is finally settled, but they're still facing a challenging year.



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Customer Service and “Reverse Justification”

   July 29th, 2008 Brian Herzog

sign: If it bothers you, it bothers usAt the Simmons Tech Summit, we talked about more than just tech stuff - we had a good discussion on customer service in libraries, too.

A few of the attendees visit lots of libraries, and so witness different levels of customer service in action. Since good customer service is absolutely fundamental to libraries, we talked about a new trend that is a bit alarming.

We dubbed it "reverse justification," but what it boiled down to was libraries claiming "customer service" as the reason for continuing to do something "the way it's always been done" - regardless of whether or not patrons benefit from it. Examples:

  • We only allow patrons to use the internet for 30 minutes a day ... because it's good customer service
  • Bathroom doors are always to remain locked ... because it's good customer service
  • Patrons cannot use flash drives, only floppy disks ... because it's good customer service

I'm not saying there aren't legitimate reasons for rules like these - technological limitations, staff shortages, etc. - but "customer service" is not it. Customer service is very important, so some serious critical thinking should always be applied when customer service is cited as a justification for something. Are the patrons really being served, or it is that policy/rule/situation just easiest for the library?



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Simmons Tech Summit

   July 24th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Simmons Tech Summit Tech ToysLast week, I was invited to participate in the first Simmons Tech Summit.

Organized and hosted by a few instructors in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, it was a small unconference of tech librarians discussing using web 2.0 tools to reach out to patrons.

It was fun. I was the only public librarian there (and, it seemed, the only one without an iPhone), and it was interesting to hear how academic librarians approach web 2.0 tools. Also, I like meeting other librarians, especially when they're doing cool things.

We created a del.icio.us account for the tools we covered - a lot I don't use, a few I'd never heard of, and some I need to investigate further. Check out the full list, but here's a few highlights:

  • VoiceThread and Animoto are different, but similar in that they are both easy tools for creating videos. Animoto puts music over photos, to create fun music videos. VoiceThread is a bit more powerful, and is a tool for creating presentations with slides and voice - but best of all, viewers can leave comments on the slides. Great for interaction in the classroom, but questions/feedback is also great for instructional screencasts or collaborative creativity
  • LibraryFind came up early in the day, as any meeting of tech librarians will quickly turn to lamenting the state of ILS software. LibraryFind is an open source metasearch/federated search tool developed (and in use!) by Oregon State University - definitely worth some play time
  • ChaCha was new to me - it's basically a reference service for mobile devices. Send them a reference question via text message or phone call, and they send you back an answer. Registering your mobile devices means it can log the questions you ask, so you can see who answered it (the "Guide") and where they found the answer. It looks like Guides can be anyone, and are paid $0.20/answer
  • Wordle.net was new to me, too - upload a block of text to it and it creates a pretty "word cloud." Like a tag cloud, but not linked, so it can be eye-catching but not inherently useful. But I like the concept, though, and it's fun: here's a wordle of the Tech Summit delicious feed, this blog, and the White House's news feed

Keeping up by reading journals and blogs is okay, but I usually learn a lot more by talking to people and hearing their ideas on tools. Yay for sharing and working together.



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LibCamp Boston

   July 24th, 2007 Brian Herzog

LibCamp Boston Logo
Sorry for the late notice, but all are welcome at Library 2.0 Camp Boston this Saturday, July 28th, from 10-4pm in the McKim Conference Room of the Boston Public Library (map).

A group of area librarians will be gathering to talk about new media and libraries. The point is really to meet each other, share our stuff, and answer the question: What are you doing in your library...?

It'll be unconference style, so very relaxed and everyone can participate as much or as little as you feel appropriate. For more information, check out http://libcamp.pbwiki.com/.
boston, libcamp, libcamp boston, libraries, library, library 2.0, library 2.0 camp, unconference, unconferences



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MashupCamp 2007

   January 2nd, 2007 Brian Herzog

Mashup Camp logoA coworker just made me aware of MashupCamp 2007, being held at MIT on Jan 17-18. I've been to a few unconferences before, and enjoy the format, so I might attend for that reason alone.

I am interested in mashups, but am probably not as hard-core as the other attendees will be. I'm sure there are ways to make our library catalog more useful by combining it with tools like Baker & Taylor, Amazon, Delicious Library, LibraryThing, Library Elf, and more, if I just had the time to sit and think and experiment. We'll see.

Another nice feature of MashupCamp 2007 is Mashup University, which is "specifically geared towards hands-on training whereby new and experienced mashup developers can get classroom style instruction on how to build mashups." Now that's for me.

boston, libraries, library, m.i.t., mashup, mashup camp, mashupcamp, mashups, mit, unconference, unconferences



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