Going to the Show

The presentation proposal I submitted with Steve Lawson and Rikhei Harris has been accepted, which means I’ll be attending and presenting at Computers in Libraries next April! It’s awfully exciting, as it will be my first time attending that particular conference and my first time presenting at a big-time, out-of-state conference. It’s also exciting because we’ll be presenting about the Library Society of the World!

If you’re expecting the three of us to rock the house, we will try not to let you down.

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Faraway, So Close!

In my previous post, I said,

I need face-to-face interaction and conversation. I need spontaneous gatherings. I need occurrences of random escapades and shenanigans. I can get some of that online (the LSW Meebo room is great for that), but nothing really replaces in-person socialization.

Some people may see that as saying I think social software is inferior to face-to-face interaction, so let me expand on my statement: in-person socialization is also no substitute for synchronous and asynchronous interaction through the internet.

There are people in my life that I respect and admire, both personally and professionally. Many of them are spread out across the globe, and it is simply not feasible to have them all in the same geographical space at the same time as often as I need. Being able to interact with them through IM, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, web forums, email and other internet-y ways is so very important to me. My life would be much poorer without these means of interacting with these people in my life. The internet brings these people closer to me when it would otherwise be improbable or impossible.

Plus, there are ways of communicating online that you can’t do as well (or at all) in person. This is why we have prose, printed poetry and essays as well as live storytelling, performance poetry and lectures; there are ways of using text that you can’t do with other forms of communication. Heck, for some people, interacting with others at a distance is preferable to meeting in-person, and social software gives them more ways to do this.

Social software is not a fad or a flash in the pan. That’s absurd. Social software didn’t come about because a few programmers thought it would be cool. It came about because humans are social creatures and they will use any technology they can to interact with each other. That’s why humans have written so many letters and postcards, why we’ve made so many phonecalls, why we’ve invented telegraphy and radios and televisions. Social software is no substitute for in-person interaction, but it adds to the potential and the richness of our interaction in ways that other technologies don’t.

That’s why it’s important for libraries to incorporate “Web 2.0” and other new technologies into their services. Not because it’s “cool,” not because it makes us look “hip” and “modern,” but because people are already using these technologies to connect and communicate with each other. Implementing these technologies offers people more ways to use our services, not less. Isn’t that what we want to offer?

No one method of communication is good for everyone, which is why variety is so goshdarned great. More technology, more social software, more in-person interaction! Bring it all on, says I!

Conferences Here, There and Everywhere

The adventurous Beth Hoffman has a snapping good blog post on her post-Internet Librarian thoughts about conferences. It would be very easy for me to simply say, “Me, too!” Instead, I’m going to throw out my own thoughts, in full knowledge that I’m possibly echoing a lot of what Beth has said.

To be blunt, whether we’re talking about big-scale professional conferences in far-off places like California or smaller, local gatherings, if a presentation is going to be one or more people lecturing, using Powerpoint slides or even videos, with time for a few questions at the end, I just don’t need to be there. I would rather watch the presentation online, with the ability to watch it again and again, than sit through a live lecture.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a very bad academic. I was an average undergraduate and made it through library school doing the bare minimum of academic reading and writing. Academic writing sends me into a coma, I take terrible notes and I detest sitting through lectures. If you’re a dynamic, enthusiastic presenter, I will enjoy your session–but in all fairness, I could almost certainly get the same information and inspiration if your presentation were available online.

What can’t I get online? What do I need to physically attend conferences for? I need face-to-face interaction and conversation. I need spontaneous gatherings. I need occurrences of random escapades and shenanigans. I can get some of that online (the LSW Meebo room is great for that), but nothing really replaces in-person socialization.

What else do I need at conferences? I need play time. I need to get my hands dirty. I need sessions that are hands-on tutorials. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hearing about great ways to use technology is no substitute for actually trying out technologies. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, would you? Wouldn’t it be easier to sell your library on new techniques and technologies if you’d already tried them out?

Now, I don’t really have much hope that library tech conferences will change just because I want them to. But for my own part, I’m going to stop writing proposals for lecture sessions and start writing proposals for conversation and hands-on sessions. We’ll see where that gets me.

Casting Pods Before Kids

The Promotions people at MPOW decided they wanted to offer patrons a free CD of recorded storytimes before Thanksgiving, with the idea that parents could put the CD on and keep the kids entertained during a long car ride to wherever they were having Thanksgiving dinner. Discussion and planning followed, readers were solicited from our Youth Services staff, and thanks to the digital media and coding savviness of my teammates, today saw the premiere of…

…the Johnson County Library Online Storytimes!

We’re offering a fairly small number of CDs at a few of our libraries, but every track of the CD, read by our talented staff (including one story read by yours truly), is available on our children’s website for downloading. You can also subscribe to the Online Storytimes podcast through Feedburner and iTunes. If we get enough positive responses, through postcards and an online survey, we’ll continue with the online stories. I’m feeling pretty good about it, and I think we’ll get enough good feedback to keep the podcast going.

Check ’em out and let me know what you think. (“The Tortoise and the Hare,” read by my friend and teammate Dave, is one of my favorites.)

Who Is the Annoyed Librarian?

Time for me to fess up: Meredith Farkas told the truth when she said she isn’t the Annoyed Librarian. She’s not. I am.

I know, I know, everyone assumes the Annoyed Librarian is a woman. What better way to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes than to blog as if I were female? Better than slapping on a pair of glasses and claiming I’m not Superman.

And sure, I’ve slagged off the Annoyed Librarian in public, claiming “she” is nothing more than an attention hound, cultivating a loyal following while also maintaining an identity of “rebel” and “victim of the mainstream biblioblogosphere.” I’ve also said I don’t think “she” is funny. Again, how better to throw everyone off the scent than to disparage my alter ego in public?

People have been claiming lately they know the true identity of the pseudonymous (not anonymous!) blogger called “the Annoyed Librarian,” but they keep naming the wrong people. My misdirection has worked too well. But I refuse to let other people get the credit for my work, and so I’m outing myself.

I am the Annoyed Librarian!

Your Future, Now With Extra DRM!

Utterly despicable.

New federal legislation says universities must agree to provide not just deterrents but also “alternatives” to peer-to-peer piracy, such as paying monthly subscription fees to the music industry for their students, on penalty of losing all financial aid for their students…

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) applauded the proposal, which is embedded in a 747-page spending and financial aid bill. “We very much support the language in the bill, which requires universities to provide evidence that they have a plan for implementing a technology to address illegal file sharing,” said Angela Martinez, a spokeswoman for the MPAA.

According to the bill, if universities did not agree to test “technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity,” all of their students–even ones who don’t own a computer–would lose federal financial aid.

Because nothing, not even the education of the next generations, is as important as the entertainment industry’s profits.

If you live in the districts of Rep. George Miller (D) of California or Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D) of Texas, please call and remind them it is not the responsibility of schools to protect the entertainment industry’s interests and denying a college education to lower-income students to make the entertainment industry happy is reprehensible.