Fresh Meat

Mazel tov to my good friend Gregg, who has been hired as a reference paraprofessional in the Johnson County Library system, which is affiliated with my library. We’ll be neighbors! We’ll be colleagues!

Gregg is also planning on starting school to get his Library Master’s degree, which is more great news. Gregg is a smart, funny, good-hearted hepcat, and he’ll make a snazzy librarians (with or without the Master’s).

Welcome to life under the big top, Gregg!

The Shallow End of the Pool

I’ve registered at the Library Success wiki. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, but…I’ve been…busy doing…stuff. Actually, I just haven’t felt like I had anything to contribute. I’m still not sure that I do, but I registered anyway. That’s just how I roll. Like a snowball going downhill. Or something.

I haven’t added much of anything yet, but I did add myself and my contact information to the Librarians Who IM page. So I’ve got that going for me.

Where is My Mind?

I haven’t posted here in a while. At Library HQ, we’ve got employees on vacation, employees at PLA and CIL, and employees out sick. We’re stretched really thin, like butter over too much bread, which means I’ve had to pull a lot of long shifts on the desk lately. Now, I love working at the reference desk, really I do. I love interacting with patrons, I love helping them find information. Heck, I even like helping them with their computer problems. But it’s difficult to get desk work done when you’re constantly interrupted by patrons, so I feel like I have a backlog of work that’s not getting done. And I’m starting to get really sick of hearing the phone ring and listening to children whine and scream at their parents.

I’m in serious need of some off-desk time, preferably with a bottle of whiskey and a box of dark chocolate, and I’m not sure when that will be.

So, my brain is feeling pretty mushy. I can’t formulate thoughts well enough to blog about anything (except this, obviously). Just reading my RSS feeds on library stuff makes my eyes spin.

Expect blogging and ranting to resume when our skeleton crew gets a big more full-figured.

Goin’ Mobile

My Place of Work is pretty stuck on Microsoft, both for public and employee computers. I asked Tech Support to have Firefox installed and it took ages before they actually agreed to install it. The installation was only on a few employee computers that I usually work on, on the condition that if there were any problems (I can’t imagine what problems there would be, but this is what I was told), I would have to handle them myself. This was right as Firefox 1.5 was being released, but they installed the previous release instead. In order to upgrade Firefox or install any plugins and extensions, I have to call Tech Support because administrative privileges are required (which I don’t have…probably for the best). I haven’t bothered calling Tech Support for this, because, well, they seemed fairly grumpy about installing Firefox in the first place.

Which is why I am enamored with the Portable Apps Suite. I now have portable versions of Firefox, Gaim, Nvu, AbiWord and Sunbird on my work-supplied flash drive. I can be on any computer at work and use Firefox–with Flash, with Greasemonkey, with all of my bookmarks–without having to deal with Tech Support. I keep my calendar with me on my flash drive now. I’ve tried out AbiWord, which I’ve come to find is a nice little word processing program. I can hop from computer to computer without having to log in and out of my personal profile and still have lots of my customized tools with me.

My Portable Apps have become so important to me…I hear wedding bells.

DIY

On the mean streets of the ALA Techsource Blog, Tom Peters has written a spiffy post on mashups. And while I think mashups are heppy and swell, I don’t want to talk about mashups right now. I want to stump some more on the librarian community.

Talking about the MashupCamp conference, Tom writes something very profound about librarian conferences in general:

It may be time for our profession to seriously reconsider the value of the traditional conference, where a conference planning committee asks for conference proposals twelve to eighteen months in advance of the conference. How can library and information conferences–gatherings, happenings, bashes, mashupcamps–better aid and abet quality growth in the library and information science ecosystem? I feel the urge to utter a manifesto coming on:

* A conference should try to actually foster and facilitate the discipline, movement, or ecosystem it represents.
* It should be as inclusive of that community as possible. Do everything you can to get the rank and file members, as well as the leaders, of your ecosystem to attend.
* Let the registrants and attendees help decide on the content and speakers.
* Consider a combo conference, where people can attend in-person or online.
* Record the conference events, and make them available via the Web.
* Mama, don’t let your conferences grow up to be cash cows.

Meredith Farkas and ALA president-in-the-future Leslie Burger are blogging more questions about what ALA can do to change and be a more effective and grabby organization. Which is great, and as an ALA greenhorn, it’s a conversation I’m personally very interested in participating in. But reading Tom’s post, a thought about librarian communities shot through my head like a gulp of whiskey: what if we librarians started putting on our own conferences? What if we got together, sent out invitations, found somewhere we could all get together cheaply, asked each other what we wanted to have sessions about, maybe started a blog or wiki just for the makeshift conference, planned everything out democratically, and…just…threw our own conference? ALA, ShmayLA! The internet lets us interact pretty easily and democratically, networking, sharing information–why do we need organizations like ALA or PLA or the Kansas Library Association to put on conferences? What’s stopping us from doing this ourselves?

I’ve got a trunk of old costumes out in the barn. Let’s put on a show!