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Time flies when you don’t know what you’re doing….

April 15, 2008

It has been a very long time since I posted here. In fact, as I sit here uploading Google videos (got to love this one done in honor of Stephen Colbert  I absolutely marvel at the amount of technology that we literally have at our fingertips. A really cool freeware tool called VLC converts all formats to play in my new Creative Zen. A few steps are involved but isn’t that part of the fun of technology?

YouTube continues to impress me with the wide-ranging influence it appears to have. Looking at it from an archives perspective, the issue of permanence is always the main issue. The issue of collecting and harvesting these materials. And thus the discussion comes to NARA‘s announcement (noted in several blogs and I found on ArchivesNext) the decision not to harvest a “snapshot” of the current administration. In a very naive way, I assumed that these government agency websites had a standard set in place–a schedule–to grab snapshots on a regular basis. There are ways of recovering some parts and possibly most parts of these sites, the Internet Archive and I am sure others, but not on a regularly scheduled basis. The kind of consistent basis that is dear to records managers and archivists hearts. The ephemeral nature of these sites–the important information that can be lost forever–the methods of how we conducted our history, how we presented it, what we thought relevant to place on a site, what we left out even, all of this will be of importance to the scholars of the future.

I leave my current job and begin a new one with one of the branches of governement in the nation’s capital next month. I look forward to learning more of how those who are working with vital documents of research are treating them and how the plans that are in process to preserve.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to download my saved YouTube videos in .flv format and convert them for my video player. Perhaps these will be preserved in the various formats I’ve saved them in (.flv, divX and the reliable .wmv) on my external hard drive. Handy for riding the Metro during rush hour.

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Tasers in the library

November 18, 2006

On November 14, a student who refused to show his ID at one of UCLA’s libraries was tasered by LA’s finest.  The story has been covered in the media quite a bit, thanks to YouTube. Here’s one link from ABC http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=2662158&page=1. The video is extremely disturbing to me.

In my opinion, this is wrong on so many levels. As a librarian I have to ask, where is the librarian outrage? I may have missed some articles quoting the librarians at the library but all I’ve found are opinions in the blogosphere arguing both sides. Librarians usually fill the blogosphere with all manner of issues (Library 2.0, Patriot Act, the good and bad aspects of ALA) ad nauseum, at times.

Of course, there are always two sides. The student should have had his BruinID. He should have obeyed the rules. Students forget IDs. We give our students the benefit of the doubt on so many levels but, then again, we’re not in Los Angeles. Isn’t the university a place for us (librarians, professors, administrators) to show our students how to live in this world? Perhapsgoing back to showing them how to conduct an organized protest and sit-in should be part of library instruction? I must admit, I have great admiration for the students who had the guts to videotape (I knew my Cingular phone with the video would be handy for something) and post to YouTube this shameful act of totalitarian authority. Students today…. I have hope when I realize there is outrage and action on their part. The youth of today, their idealism, bodes well for the future of us all.

Admittedly, a library open 24/7, which it appears this one is, probably isn’t staffed by a professional librarian that late (the incident occured around 11:30 p.m.). Would a librarian have stopped this? Could a librarian staff member have stopped this? I assume the staff called security who then called the LAPD.

However, there is something that is inherently wrong in this type of police force. Ok, so, there are people that think that our police force have had to resort to these tactics to control the unruly masses. Some can argue that back in the day (before tasers) that batons were use.  And firehoses. Yeah, I remember that. I’ve seen southern policeman use their authority in abusive ways. I’ve also seen policeman give students and adults a break on the “rules” they enforce.

What disturbs me personally is that it happened in a library. Yeah, I know the arguments. Bad things happen everywhere. Our libraries are not sacrosanct places that people naturally speak quietly, and use respectfully. Libraries now are like any other place that has a commodity. We use them to access the Internet, eat, drink, and anything else one can think of. Academic libraries have their own set of “issues” with what students do in them. I understand that and accept it.

I don’t accept that force used in a place that is, in the most abstract, a place of sanctuary. This type of violence violates the collective idea of library as a place of learning, of knowledge, of openness, reflection, discovery and freedom.

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Library 0.5

October 23, 2006

Yesterday I decided it to stop by the local public library (surprised it was open on Sunday in this small town) and get a library card. Simple, right? Librarians, especially new librarians to a small town who want to know other librarians and how the public library operates, would naturally apply for a library card.

So, I did. The first time I have ever been asked for a “reference” in order to have the privilege of checking out books in the town I know pay some kind of taxes to. A reference? I asked the staff person behind the desk (it was surprisingly busy, a good sign, I thought) *why* a reference? I know no one well enough to give as a local reference. She replied, “It’s in case you don’t return your books and we call you and can’t reach you–it is so we can reach someone who can get in touch with you”. Oh really. Sort of a library accountability policy? I was blown away. And I tried (really, I did) not to come off as being absolutely amazed and condescending but I probably failed at that. But, geez louise, a reference? A REFERENCE? The fact I wasn’t asked to prove that I actually lived in the county and am eligible for library service was not an issue. I offered my university ID since my drivers license is still from the state I moved from. I was assured that was not necessary but a reference was, just in case I don’t return my books, you know. Because, well, this library needs their books, a small collection that is obviously used, that’s for damn sure.

So, I wrote down the university as my reference and won the privilege of checking two books out for two weeks. If, and that’s a big IF according to the library staff person, I return them on time, then I can check out as many as I want. Ok. That’s cool. That is a rule that I understand. For the life of me I cannot fathom the reference and not checking my eligibility for library services.

But, a nice library. Internet access, small but active children’s area, good periodicals, although limited in scope, of course. So expensive. Nice public services on the bulletin board. Collaboration with the university would be such a good thing if possible.

I love to visit libraries. Some have draconian rules. Visiting Boston Public just to check a reference while on a business trip require about 17 hoops to jump to get inside special collections. But, that’s Boston, right? And this is the South and things are different here. References required, no barefeet and (this is a sign I see at my physician’s office among other places), “please, no firearms”.  The social contract that is evident in this culture. The “please” part is cool. No hard-line statements “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED” but, “please leave your firearms outside” or some variation on the assumption that firearms are carried by most people and these places would ask you not to bring them in. Got to get a photo of that and post on Flickr.

So, I have a library card and two books that are checked out with the due date stamped with a grocery store price sticker on the front cover. Of the whole experience (which was observed and commented on by very many middle-aged white women behind me and hovering around listening, I mentioned it was small, right?), the thing that bothered me the most was the sticker that was used to indicate the due date that is stuck on the outside of the book cover. Yikes. I have to resist the urge to peel the legions of stickers mine is covering over because I keep thinking how bad it is for the binding to have these stickers stuck on it. I guess not having cards and pockets or a slip of paper and an ink stamp (although the ubiquitous barcode is evident) is too much trouble.

This library, though dear, is ready for Library 1.0, eh?

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Four weeks

October 18, 2006

This is my fourth week in my new position. The job challenges me in ways I expected and in ways I did not expect.

I expected adjustments to the academic cultural climate–it *is* different in this part of the country. Slower, more polite, social interaction is premium (did I mention slower?). Expected cultural change as I grew up in this part of the country.

As the head of the department I have lots of projects and tasks and changes either expected of me or ones that I feel need to be implemented. It is special collections and archives–there are accepted rules that most special collections/archives follow for security and management of resources that are irreplaceable. These have not been the norm at all and there are several areas of processing, cataloging, student scheduling, collection development and, security. The latter seems to be my “issue” but for the other librarians, not so much.

But today, yeah, today was different. The week has been a whole new learning experience coming to terms with a patron base comprised of community users that are not technically savvy. That’s ok, that is why I am a librarian. To help people access information in the best, most expedient way and if not the latter due to whatever limitations, then access the most reliable information that I can provide. But, add the cultural mix and the way things have “always” been done and, well, that’s a challenge.

I can do that. I like challenging jobs and I’m goal oriented and possess the whole anal-retentive characteristics most archivists/librarians seem to have. But, today even I was caught off guard.

I was walking into the library this morning when I noticed several well-dressed older men standing by our parking area. Interesting. Professors? Some sort of informal way of letting us know of an event? No, just a group of very dedicated men handing out bibles to all and sundry. That is something I have never seen on a college campus before. As I had to pass between the special collections building and the main library I ran into at least seven more (well-dressed, anglo-saxon gentlemen all asking me if I would take a New Testament (bound in that hideous ugly green binding, y’all know the type?). I replied to each one, “No thank you”, and noticed that the students were accepting them or saying “No thank you (we’re nothing if not incredibly polite on this campus), or “I have one at home, in my purse, in my backpack, etc.” Staff took them and were talking to them, probably everyone knows them, the town is that small.

But, at my age, to feel the slightest pangs of peer pressure because I refused to take an ugly green pocket New Testament rather was surprising, along with the everyday surprises of our student workers and our student and community users. Hmm, wonder if I’ll now be considered the heathen/atheist/druid special collections librarian? That one who *refused* the ugly green pocket New Testament? Possibly, an unpropitious start for the culmination of my first month as the new librarian, eh?

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Support the Commons

October 15, 2006

Three weeks adjusting to my new position in a state 3000 miles from where I was six weeks ago has left precious little time for blogging. However, this caught my eye as I was browsing the feeds in my reader. As an academic librarian and one in an environment attempting to learn ways of providing access for our students, I felt this was a good link to post http://creativecommons.org/support/ as my first post in my academic position. Instead of a post on archival management and theory in practice and learning, a post drawing attention to one of the most important aspects of librarianship and access seemed apropos. Especially as I am quite overwhelmed (in a good way) in exploring, learning and adjusting to not only a new position but one in an entirely new cultural environment. Quite the adventure in itself. 

Change happens at different rates in various locales and this one is valiently trying to provide the necessary tools for academic success along with accommodating the restrictions in place for a few years. 

As an eternal optimist (or totally delusional human) I believe the changes will be implemented (more open access, less restrictions on access to outside resources such as restricting certain sights from .edu addresses) in time.

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Blogging from Flickr

September 18, 2006

Pogue Library Special Collections

My first time to blog from Flickr and my first blog entry from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

As I try to catch up on the feeds in my aggregator, I notice some discussion of Flickr in libraries. It seems a logical step for those libraries (public, academic, special, school) that have budgetary restraints that prevent investing in digital imaging software. If Flickr remains stable (and no reason to suspect it will not but….) it can provide a quick and easy way to share images for patrons. The added functionality of Flickr with comments, groups and contacts makes it a very attractive alternative to the proprietary software offered to libraries.

The image is the Special Collections where I will begin my new position and where my office will be located. It is a beautiful building, built in the Renaissance Revival style. Along with bookplates and signed bindings, I am interested in architectural design, especially this period and earlier. Perfect combination, eh?

Beginning a new position in a new town 2369 miles from where I lived for six years has been a bit of an adjustment. The drive across the west and upper midwest was…. well, interesting and stressful and beautiful and tiring. The usual adjectives for any type of long-distance move.

Getting settled in this area has been easy. I attribute it to the southern influence. One thinks of Kentucky as not particularly a southern state but I feel quite at home with not only the climate but the culture reminds me of growing up in the deep south.

It has been good to have a couple of weeks to adjust before beginning my position. As new librarians, well, the ones such as myself that are able to relocate are lucky in that geography isn’t a restriction. Drawbacks, of course, no family, no acquaintances or friends yet and the inevitable adjustment to new people, places and cultural norms. Community seems highly valued here and, it is such a cliche, but it truly appears everyone knows or knows of everyone I’ve met. For a naturally shy person, it is a bit of a challenge but will be quite interesting from a sociological perspective!

For younger librarians with the freedom to move, it would have been a great opportunity. It is for me, as well (a not so younger librarian). As a subscriber to the Newlib list, I feel for those who graduated the same time I did and still are looking for that first full-time job. I read of such discouragement in the job search arena for new librarians. I know of no easy answer, the typical response is to acquire experience, be willing to relocate, develop flexibility in one’s job search and, this from direct experience, perservere.  This is one of the keys, I think, to being marketable. Not always true but it helps, if one has libraries willing to either work with recent graduates in crafting volunteering opportunities or in allowing some type of unpaid or paid (much better) internship.

I believe librarianship is such a rewarding profession, a vocation in some instances, and one thing I want to do in this position is to be open to encouraging my fellow co-workers to enter this field or go for the degree *if* that is of interest to them. I was encouraged by such a wonderful cadre of really excellent librarian/mentors and, while I know I am not in their league, I do want to pass on that encouragement if the opportunity presents itself.

In future posts I hope to discuss some of the issues I’ll be facing as I start the position. I will be attending the Kentucky Library Association meeting next week in Louisville  where Michael Stephens  is one of the presenters. Hopefully, for this very new blogger I anticipate a productive conference. It will be cool to meet some of the people whose blogs I read and whose opinions I respect.

Blogged originally from Flickr, edited in WordPress with IE7, Beta 3 (which after being unconnected to the wired world for over a ten days–seems to be working better? At least, it is easier to search and utilize editing tools with IE7, hmm, could it be the Dell Inspiron? Nah, probably not).

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Cross-country moving

August 28, 2006

After graduating with my MLIS last May I have been offered and accepted a position in a special collections and archives. The job offers some exciting opportunities, I believe. It is in a rural area of the upper South (at least to me). My first position as tenure-track faculty and I must admit, it sounds nice to have Assistant Professor to my title.

This will be my third cross-country move. This time with four cats instead of the six of last time. Alas, my departed companions whose ashes are going with me. That connection of librarians and cats, an indelible combination.

The logistics of the move have been rather grueling. The rural nature of the area is problematic in some ways and very attractive in others.

I suspect all new librarians (even those of us who have worked in the field for all of their adult lives) have qualms about new jobs, moving to a town, a rural town (can’t stop mentioning that, can I?) where they will be a complete stranger. It is daunting. Some would not do it and I admire that as much as I do the ones that can do it without the angst.

However, the prospect of working with rare books and archives again trumps the doubts I have of leaving this beautiful area. I miss the challenge of seeking and implementing new ways of access; the give and take between colleagues; the students that we can introduce history to and hopefully instill an appreciation for primary source materials or at least, an appreciation for what was before.

That coupled with the pay and the cost of living and the choice was made.

I hope to use this blog in a more professional manner from now on to post about the challenges and opportunities to make older collections accessible electronically. I am already thinking of developing a WiKi and/or blog for the special collections. Newcomers to an established collection must tread carefully and use great tact. Something I will hopefully stay fully aware of and be reminded by others if I don’t.

Ah, if only my USB cable wasn’t already packed I could post a travelogue as I speed (literally) through the upper states to reach my destination.

Posted using IE7 Beta 3 and no problems. Just purchased a Dell Inspiron E1405 (duo T2400/1.83 with 667 MHZ) using Media Center, another post awaits the wonder of Dell. Well, not that much wonder except the price I was able to get it for (exploding laptop batteries notwithstanding).

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Bloggin in Flock

July 9, 2006

Tech savvy? Ha. Not so much, apparently. I think I have discovered the proper setup for blogging in Flock. It looks promising. The graphical interface isn’t as smooth as IE7 Beta 3 but, it has many options for add-ons such as Flickr, snippets, the aformentioned blogging and surely many more I’ve yet to discover.

Libraries will find this useful, especially as it requires little training and can produce content for users very easily.

So, here goes.

Blogged with Flock

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Browsing with Flock

July 8, 2006

Testing out a new (to me) browser called Flock. Interesting. It is similar to Mozilla/Firefox in terms of the interface design. In fact, I am quite sure Flock is a part of Firefox.

I am composing this blog post in it and it will be my test case. As a tech junkie, I tend to tryout any new, innovative software. After downloading IE 7 Beta 3 and not having any success in getting those tiresome security controls under control, I thought I would try to unassimilate from IE “world” a bit.
So far, not so bad. Flock has an interesting feature of allowing users to blog with their accounts (mine is WordPress) but others are supported as well as adding Flickr images at the top of the browser window (haven’t investigated the usefulness of that but I’ve been adding more images to my Flickr account).

I have not been unimpressed with this new browser although I have to admit, despite the security paranoia with IE 7 Beta 3, I really enjoyed the graphical user interface. Too nice! I’ve had some unfortunate experiences in the past downloading BETA versions of software, wiping out my entire computer back in the mid-90s at UAB and earned a reputation amongst the IT guys, whom I loved but they also used my disaster as an example to the other library staff. Good thing I don’t shame easily by my tendency to engage in tech-related risk behavior.
What can I say? I worked as a systems admin person back in the 1980s, before Windows, programming in DOS. I know just enough to screw things up really well and, on the bright side, I also tend to stay current with the technology side of the library world. Something I have found in my job search that not all librarians are doing, well, at least the ones in my age group.
Alright, let’s see if I can post this.

Aach. It did not work. So, cut and pasted into a new entry. Interesting little aside here. When I googled (yo, it’s an official verb now) IE7 Beta 3, I got the Microsoft page but the URL in the Flock bar had this as the address thesource.ofallevil.com/ie/default.asp.

Clicking on the link now takes one to the MSDN page.

Hmm. Hijack? Just what the hell was that?

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Another library interview down

June 28, 2006

My library interview is past and now the waiting game.

I find it fascinating to visit these libraries as a candidate and observe the differences between East Coast/West Coast, academic and non-academic. This last one was an academic library, special collections librarian. Tenure-track, the whole deal.

The previous interview was West Coast and very different. I’ve got to say it, the East/South is so much more laid back than the West Coast (contrary to popular perception). I had a presentation on my vision of the future for this particular special collections. Received some much needed positive affirmation.

I am a Southerner. No matter how long I live not in the South, I spent my formative years, and a majority of my professional years, in the South. So, I felt connected. Although, the smallness of the town and the extreme rural nature of the area gives this librarian pause.

What surprised me the most was the difference in how application of technology for library services was applied. The prevalence of active blocking of sites such as MySpace (which I understand is more common than I thought on campuses). It is interesting to see the evolution of technology at different rates in various areas of the country. 

The whole MySpace issue and blocking certain sites bothers me. It is so counter to what I perceive as academic freedom for our students. Even in a rural, conservative state, these public universities must acknowledge students of the 21st century are handicapped if the are not provided access to the common social networking sites along with the fostering of intellectual curiousity and exploration.  

Lovely area. Low cost of living. People that embody the characteristics I grew up with and fall into a very comfortable pattern with (except for the conservative political aspect).

The previous interview I met with many outside of the library. I was asked what my “hobbies” were, what I did for “fun”. That threw me. I so wanted to say something completely unexpected. Such as “crocheting cat booties” or “tatoos”. Alas, I just said I was a runner and amateur photographer. Was that the reason I wasn’t offered the position? Too one-dimensional? Who knows? Who cares? Not I.

Thankfully, that isn’t the norm in the area I was interviewing last week.

Word up to anyone traveling on United. Don’t. Absolutely the worst flight experience I have had (and I’ve flown quite a bit).