Bay Area Librarians are Partying Like Whoa!

One of the things I’ve been really excited to see is the growth of so many socializing opportunities in the Bay Area for librarians. Most of these gathering are organized on Facebook or some other social media but occasionally they’re posted on Calix (California library listserv). These kinds of events help bring together our community of professionals and paraprofessionals and I hope will allow us to come together when we need support from our peers. I wrote about how important this was a couple of posts ago and it’s great to see it continue with so many other groups.

Because there are so many groups of librarians (what do you call a group of librarians?), this time I’m going to give you some links to the organizers of these events. Here they are in no particular order.

Information Amateurs Social Club
The information Amateurs Social Club is not to be confused with the Information Professionals Social Club although I do generally confuse them. From what I understand, they were both created at almost the exact same time without any coordination and it just happens to be a coincidence. This social club though, focuses on gatherings in the San Francisco area while some of the others focus on other areas of the bay.

Information Professionals Social Club
This group was started by an SJSU SLIS alumna and student because they wanted to promote interaction among Bay Area Information Professionals. They are really striving to encourage some more networking between information professionals, new graduates, and students. They organize a lot of informal meet-ups that are designed to stimulate conversation, share employment experiences and educational advice, and above all make new friends.

Bay Area Librarians
I’m excited that I started the BAL Page on Facebook and I got to watch it grow to over 400 professionals, para professionals, and students. We have more admins now and quite a few different people starting meetups. Although, Facebook changed some of the settings for Pages and in retrospect I wish I would have made this a group instead of a page. Because I live in the Peninsula area, this group’s meetups are usually near me along the Peninsula. Specifically, we have meetups every Thursday in Redwood City at the Peninsula Yacht Club for anyone who is interested in relaxing and having a cheap drink. if anyone wants to take a swing at making another meetup elsewhere from this page, let me know and I’ll make you an Admin.

SLIS Students and Alumni
This page just brings people together who went to San Jose SLIS and want to connect. Occasionally I have seen some organization of some meetups and networking events. Typically, from what I’ve seen, these events focus on getting students connected with professionals to help them build a bigger network and gain some opportunities for mentorship etc…

Silicon Valley Librarian Network
This group is all about bringing together people in the Silicon Valley who are in the librarian profession. It’s a new and pretty loose group right now but I’ve seen them share some good stuff. Basically, they just want to create some opportunities for more folks to have some drinks together. I strongly support this of course.

Librarians Getting Down with Their Bad Selves
I love the title of this group. This meetup group focuses on South Bay Librarians who want to… Well… Get down with their Bad Selves. I don’t think I need to explain too much more honestly. This one is also fairly new so I’m excited to see what comes out of it.

Bay Area SLIS People
The problem people had with the San Jose SLIS Students and Alumni page is that San Jose SLIS students are spread out all over the world. This means that when you try to organize something, it goes out to librarians who couldn’t possibly make it from the east coast for an hour or two meetup. In fact, I got marked as spam for inviting those folks to some of my meetups (Oops, sorry team). Anyway, if you want a group that focuses on us locally, check out this page.

While I love that we have so many folks dedicated to having people come together to network and socialize, I am a little worried at the same time. There are so many niche groups networking here that we might be working counter to what I get excited about when I think of meetups. That is, I like that we are all meeting from across groups and organizations and across our niches and specialties. I strongly believe that it is really important that we all come together as one profession and work meet each other and create a stronger alliance of professionals. I would love to see all of our groups coming together more often and a lot more crossover from all the groups to create something awesome in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Afterwork Library Meetup at the Yacht Club

These meetups are weekly events so feel free to come out every Thursday! I promise to only invite folks every other week from now on since I got marked as spam for these invites. If you don’t want to be included in these community building and networking opportunities, please let me know and I won’t send you an invite anymore.

Once again we’ll start by having our drinks at the Peninsula Yacht Club and see what happens. Last two weeks we wound up at the Living Room doing some Karaoke and the week before we moved over to
Palo Alto’s Rose and Crown to meet with some other librarians where we joined forces and had a great time. There’s plenty of places within walking distance if we get hungry or want to party in a different scene and we can always order something at the club.

These events help us build some library community in the Bay Area so we can do awesome things in the future.

For those of you who don’t know about PYC, its pretty much a dive bar. The best dive bar in the bay area though! While it is usually
a private club, you don’t have to be a member to come because you’ll be my guest for the meetup. Just show up, let me know your there, write your name on the guest list, and have a drink!

You can just come as you are and drinks at PYC are $2-4 and there’s no tipping because I’m bartending. It’s gonna be fun and cheap – everything a librarian loves.

If we wind up moving on to somewhere, we’ll post something to the Facebook page so people can find out where we went.

Peninsula Yacht Club
1536 Maple Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Facebook Event Page

Partying = Library Community

Since I’ve been banned from Facebook because someone marked me as spam for sending out too many invitations to library parties. I’m going to defend myself a little bit here.

I’ve been thinking more and more about partying as a professional activity so the next few posts that I do are going to be about how partying Makes It Happen. This post is going to be about communities of Librarians.

We desperately need a more closely knit library community. One of the best things I’ve learned from JP, Allen, and the ALA Think Tank is that if you want to build a community, you have to party. Partying builds social connections, strengthens our relationships, allows us to get to know each other without a Robert’s Rules Agenda, and because partying is a positive activity, it allows us to come together in a way that meetings about budget cuts or trainings just can’t.

So, here are all the reasons we need to party to build our local communities of librarians.

The world works on Social Connections
As I get older and watch the world around me I’ve come to the realization that the only reason that some people get ahead and others don’t is because of their social connections. If you look at people who are considered great and take a step back from the person, you’ll quickly see all the people around them that help them to make it happen. Nearly everyone, from politicians, to business owners, to movie stars got their start because of the people around them. If we want to get our start and get ahead as a profession, we need connections. No man is an island, Entire of itself.

I’ve been involved in a bunch of mentorship organizations for libraries and usually it’s extremely difficult to be a mentor when we live hundreds or thousands of miles apart and never met. If you want to be a mentor or if you want a mentor, getting involved in a community is a great way to do that. In fact, all of my mentors have been people that I’ve partied with at conferences, gotten to know, and been a part of my community of professionals.

Did you know that other, more successful, professional groups who are vying for tax money have very organized local communities? The police, for example, when general fund money is being discussed, have a large group of people that they can call on locally to go to city council meetings, run from a script, and help advocate for the money. We are much more powerful in large numbers and we desperately need those numbers.

Celebrate your Profession
While this is more about the party than the community, I want to point out that having a large group of local professionals that you are friends with, that you can text or email or call when you’re feeling down about what’s going on in our profession, is so extremely helpful! I have a quite a few librarians that I can get a hold of at anytime if I want someone to help me celebrate all the amazing things we do for our citizens.

Have you ever run out of ideas? Don’t feel bad, that happens. But how do you get new ideas? Well, if you have a community of professionals around you, it’s easy to find out what they’re doing and get some inspiration. We are all surrounded by so many great librarians and we hardly ever get the opportunity to see what the people working in the library down the street are doing. Having a community of professionals around you that are part of other organizations really helps!

Organizational Blues
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we look at our own organizations through the lens of the employee who has been there for so long that we forget about the excitement. Getting out with a community of people who work in other organizations might get you to find ways to energize your own library, or it might make you realize that yours isn’t so bad after all. Either way, that’s a win!

One of my biggest frustrations in our profession is that we don’t collaborate enough across our organizations. For example, Cheryl Lee is a fantastic librarian who does some amazing work at a library about 2 miles away and I really want to work with her to do something awesome (I don’t know what yet). The only reason that I know that she does awesome stuff is because she is part of our small but growing local library community. If we had a better and closer community, we could potentially do more together, share costs, and just generally be more awesome.

Don’t be a Hater (a how-to guide to being happy)

So after my post about haters I promised to write a blog post about how I got off the cycle of negativity. The problem is that it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to do it (both the blog post and ending the cycle of negativity). Consequently, the blog post kept getting longer and longer and longer.

First of all though, let me tell you that I used to be a super negative person. I was easily irritated or angry and hated on a lot of folks. If you had met me about 4-5 years ago you might have noticed that it wasn’t pretty and I was fairly unhappy. So, one day I realized how I felt and I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was read all those goofy stupid self-help books about being a better me, or finding my path to enlightenment, meditation for dummies, seven secrets for happier people, etc… and even those irritated me. But really, one day I just decided to take a more serious role in changing my perspective on everything. After I made that decision it all became easy.

If you want to know what worked for me, this is my list. Feel free to create your own.

Take responsibility
I used to work in a group home and when one of the kids acted out and retaliated against another kid or said or did something mean, they would just say, “I can’t help it, that’s just way I am.” This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. In fact, I would argue that the only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. You can either feel good or feel bad. It’s a choice. If you’re feeling mad or upset or anything, simply choose to feel good. It sounds stupidly easy but it’s hard at first. Keep practicing, soon you’ll get it.

Change your Inner Monologue
I think this was the hardest thing to change. It’s just so easy to hear that kid screaming in the restaurant, or have that horribly bad driver in front of you, or read that guy’s stupid comment on your blog post, and think terrible thoughts about them in a split second. It happens without even thinking. But, you can take a couple of seconds or minutes after that thought and try to realize that maybe there are other things going on in their lives, that they’re not happy, or just take a deep breath, smile and move on.

Take a Deep Breath
That leads me to taking a deep breath. This was the most valuable lesson I ever learned. I taught martial arts for about 6 years and I worked for a guy who made us all take a deep breath as we walked through the door to work. As we exhaled that breath we visualized letting go of everything that happened to us up until that point in time. As we got better at it, we learned to separate what happens at home with what happens at work. Eventually, we started doing it when we went home so we didn’t take work with us. You could basically do this anytime you go anywhere so nothing that bothers you follows you anywhere.

Wear a Reminder
I’ve always had something on my wrist. It’s usually a band of some kind and it has been a variety of things from wristbands to watches to pieces of string or a hemp bracelet. Whatever it is it’s meant to be completely symbolic. It’s just a reminder to be the person I want to be, which is a happier person. I’ve been thinking about getting it as a tattoo.

Love People
I don’t think I need to explain this. But fall in love. Fall in love a hundred times a day.

Change your Routine
My routine was really getting me down once. There were a bunch of things I did that got me irritated throughout the day. I would watch TV and the commercials would irritate me but every night I watched TV anyway. I would read the news online and the comments would irritate me, but I would read the comments anyway. It goes on and on. Anyway, stop doing the crap that makes you mad.

Make a routine
How about a new routine? I started reading things that made me happier, watching movies instead of TV, finding websites that had funnier comments, etc… This is real easy. Things like the interwebs or television or books or whatever are either super funny or they’re super irritating. The good thing is that you can choose which experience you want to have.

Morning Dance Party
Every morning, just dance. I highly recommend the Jackson 5 channel on Pandora. It’s pretty epic.

In the movie Empire Records, Lucas said to Warren (I know his name isn’t Warren) “You know, someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them. Maybe some jazz or some classical.” The same holds true for everyone. If you want to diminish your negative impulses, check your music selection. Even Rob in High Fidelity asked the eternal question – “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Either way, play whatever makes you happy. I know JP Porcarro will tell you to party to some Skrillex but that’s nto for everyone either. Find what makes you happy.

Negativity Begets negativity

It gets real easy to be negative if you’re around negative haters. It’s real easy to fall back into that cycle. If you know some negative folks, drop them like the bad habit they are. This is probably the hardest thing. I was easy for me because I moved, but not everyone can be that lucky but if you need to move that is always a viable option.

Give things to people
About three years ago, Julie Strange sent me a button with a guitar on it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It’s strange (no pun intended) how much the little things like that can change your perspective for the whole year. It really made me feel good for no particular reason except that someone somewhere thought about me at some point. I still have that button on my boat. Ever since then, I’ve tried to make it a point to give things to random people for no reason and that makes me happy.

Write some Letters
The old fashioned way like with a pen and paper and some stamps. You could even write a love letter if you want! Writing a letter is a great way to express yourself and the act of actually physically going to put it in the mail forces you to take note of that action. Plus a hand written physical letter means a lot more to a lot of people. They can put it on their desks or walls and think about you. They may even write back and that should make you happy too. If you write me, I might write you back!

Party Hard
Find a group of people that make you happy and party with them. You don’t need drugs or alcohol or anything but a good time. If you need some inspiration for this you need to be following Andrew W.K. and JP Porcaro online. They are always a party and a good time.

Make It Happen
The last and biggest thing that makes me happy is having a bunch of goals. I get really unhappy when I don’t have goals. I need a huge project or something to look forward to in order to keep me going. I do things like the Story Sailboat, or my Guitar Collection, getting my Captain’s License, or the Seed Library to keep me motivated. I highly recommend making some kind of list of things you want to work toward. You can even doing it socially with one of my favorite websites called It’s great! Find me there and we can share our goals.

My All Keanu Presentation on Professional Networking

Ok, so… I’m still working on my response to my last post and I’ll have it out for you on Tuesday. In the meantime, here is something a little more unexpected. This is my all Keanu Reeves presentation on how to successfully network in the profession at conferences. I had way too much fun making this.

Professional Networking
View more PowerPoint from Patrick Sweeney

Hating Haters who Hate and the Haters who Hate Them.

You know, I’m pretty much down for just about anything, but recently I’ve been watching some things develop which just kinda bug me. So I’m gonna hate on some folks for a second. I’m gonna hate on the haters.

We are Awesome
We work in the best damn profession in the world so get happy or get out! If its too much for you to be happy about being a librarian and enjoying all of the diverse thinking, the lovely people, the great services and programs we provide, the fine folks around us, then maybe this profession isn’t for you. I mean, I know about the budget cuts, I know about the hardships finding a job, I know about the whole eBook thing, and everything else but really… It’s still a fantastic profession so get with the program and celebrate it with me.

People will Find Out
If you’re somewhere and you’re talking shit about someone, guess what!? They will probably find out. Our profession isn’t as big as it feels sometimes. We are more connected to our fellow co-workers and all of the people around us by so many different lines of communication now that just about anyone will find out what you said about them that one time at the Elsevier Reception at ALA in 1983. If you don’t like someone or something that someone is doing then you should do what your momma taught you and not say anything at all. If you have to say something, maybe you could compliment their shoes or choice of hairstyles.

What are they saying about you?
If you’re hanging out around people who are hating on folks, please just walk away. It may offend them! But don’t worry because that’s not comparable to as much as you will be offended when you find out what they’ve been saying about you. The deal with haters is that they hate. They don’t care what they’re hating or why. While your talking to them they might be hating on that guy over there, but when they’re talking to him, can you guess who they’re hating on? Probably you. The other problem is that hating is like herpes and its contagious so don’t be around a hater without protection. Get it? Hating = Herpes and that’s bad.

Negativity begets negativity
Even if you haven’t started as a librarian yet or in the library field or your struggling to find a job, you shouldn’t let it get you down. Having interviewed way more people than I ever want to have interviewed in my life, the one thing that’s easy to spot is a hater. They’re typically someone with some negativity hanging about them. People who hate professionally are hopefully going to do badly in the profession. It’s very easy to get down on things that are going on in the profession and bring that with you wherever you go. People will be able to see this and they’ll treat you accordingly and then you’ll get to be even more of a hater because of the way people treat you and then this cycle will continue until you spiral out of control with no friends and you’ll wind up alone with thirty cats alone in your apartment at Christmas wearing the sweater you knitted for yourself while scowling at me at my presentation. Just be cool.

I’ve done it, and I’m sorry
Ok, so here is my part. I’ve been a hater about some stuff before. Especially early in my career and I regret everything I ever said that was not nice. If you know I said something, I’m sorry and you can slap me in my face next time you see me. But then I’ll buy you a beer and we’ll be friends and do awesome stuff together like picking blackberries on warm summer days under a double rainbow while riding a unicorn. (or something similar)

Luckily I figured out how to get out of that vicious cycle and I’m going to share that with you in my next blog post. But you’ll have to wait until then.

How to be Awesome at Going to Library Conferences

I’m sitting here at the New Jersey Library Conference (fist pumping) and I was thinking about how much my conference experiences have improved the last couple of years. I also saw a bunch of recent tweets about newbies going to ALA. So, I thought I would share my own experiences about what makes an awesome conference experience. This is going to be ALA heavy since it’s coming up, but everything here can be adapted to your local conferences as well. So, here they are in no particular order-

Get involved
This is probably the most important. ALA is all about involvement. The greater part of the organization is run by volunteers. There are a bunch of ways to get involved in it but if it’s your first time to ALA I would recommend going to the ALA Scheduler and taking a look at what isScheduled for New Members at the conference. They can give a bunch of good information about what kinds of things you can do to be involved. There are a bunch of committees, roundtables, interest groups, etc… that are looking for interns or people to just help them out with whatever they might need. The best thing you can ever do is ask “How can I help.”

Bonus Tip– I also recommend running for ALA Council for the bitching rights but that happens in Midwinter. For Annual you can sit in a Council meeting and see what happens there. I’ll be there so don’t be afraid to come up and say hi!

Meet Everyone
My favorite thing to do at ALA is meet people. The people that we work with in the profession are absolutely amazing! There are so many great people doing such fantastic things that I love to talk to as many people as I can about whatever they’re passionate about at the moment. I actually learn far more from these conversations than I do at a lot of the programs and I also have a large network of friends and mentors that I can rely on for whatever questions I might have or inspiration that I might need. The biggest problem is remembering everyone’s name (hi Veronica!) but that’s something that I’m working on.

Be social
Just as a step beyond meeting everyone, it’s very important that you practice your social skills at ALA. This was the hardest thing for me to learn because I was a pretty intense introvert for most of my life but it’s something I’ve worked to get over while at conferences especially. Remember, this is the largest gathering of people in your profession in the world and you should be taking advantage. This isn’t the time to hide in your hotel room, eat or drink alone, or otherwise have any kind of anti-social tic whatsoever. So don’t be shy. If you’re eating lunch, ask strangers to join you, if you’re in an elevator talk to the people around you, if you go to a program talk to be people sitting next to you, and if you hear about a meetup or tweetup or dance party then you should go! You can find out about many of these opportunities on Twitter or on the conference scheduler.

Find a group
This is probably the hardest part and the one thing that made ALA better for me. When you’re out and about and being social you should try to get in with a group of people that you think you might like. At my first awesome ALA experience I was running around with some great folks from Reforma (I’m not even a member). After that I started meeting more and more people and now I have a really cool groups of folks that started by renting a house together for conferences instead of a hotel by myself.

Get Free Stuff
Find a totebag, put stuff in it. You can use the hashtag #alafree if you want to let other people know about it. Besides totebags and more books than you can carry there is always a ton of free food and drinks all over the conference. There is no reason to go hungry or spend money on food or drinks. Once again, you can find out a lot about where and when this happens on Twitter and the Scheduler.

Dress Casualish

You will walk. You will walk A WHOLE LOT. Be prepared for that. I see a lot of folks wearing some pretty nice clothes that look like they would be a pain to wear. Wear something comfortable and especially wear comfortable shoes. If you want to get an idea about what to wear to ALA then you should check out the Librarian Wardrobe Tumblr and see what other folks wear to conferences. Bobbi also wrote a great blog post with some tips for packing this stuff too.

Party hard
There are so many parties and opportunities to celebrate our profession and get away from all the doom and gloom and end of time prophecies that we keep hearing. You should take advantage of them. We get to work in the best damn job in the world so this is a great opportunity to celebrate that fact. Be positive, enthusiastic, fun, excited, passionate, and everything else that comes with a good party mentality.

Make It Happen
You are responsible for your ALA experience. If you think that the conference needs a dance party then make one happen, if you think it needs an unconference then make one happen, if you think it needs a QR code hunt then make one happen. There are so many opportunities to make something happen that you want to see at ALA that it’s ridiculous. So I’m telling you, don’t complain about there not being something that you want there (I won’t listen), you can make that something happen if you really want it.