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.
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.
I’m super excited to announce my Literacy and Library Advocacy Campaign on indiegogo.com! I was originally planning on releasing this project on Kickstarter but they don’t allow advocacy or awareness campaigns. Check out the description of the project below and help us advocate for literacy by giving money on the project home page.
Who Are We?
The Story Sailboat is a independent bookmobile on the water that will set sail around the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento Delta in the summer of 2012 setting a course that promotes literacy and libraries. Our goal is to give out 1,000 books and install 100 small, easily accessible libraries through our Guerrilla Library and Book Seeding Campaigns. We want to remind people that reading is one of the most fundamental influences on in a person’s life and we will do this through promoting reading and libraries.
Did you know that it’s estimated that 30 million people who are over 16 in the United States can’t read past an elementary school level? Literacy is absolutely essential for an individual to understand information in the information age. Without basic literacy skills a person will have trouble with fully comprehending math, technology, science, and other basic subjects. A person can’t apply for a job, full out an application, or use computers to further their careers. If we are to eradicate poverty at home, it begins with our workforce having a grasp on literacy skills. We want to remind people that Literacy and our library system that supports adult and child literacy is intensely important to the success of our country and improvement of ourselves.
What Is a Guerrilla Library?
A Guerrilla library is part social service and part street art installation. It can be any repurposed box, shelf space, nook, or cranny that holds books for the public to take and enjoy – for free. Discovering a library in an unexpected or repurposed space adds to excitement. There have been many versions of this in quite a few cities across the country and the world. We want to bring as many of these installations to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Delta as we can.
What is Book Seeding?
Bookseeding involves placing books in widely populated or highly trafficked areas – like subways, bus stops, coffee shops and parks. Within these books we’ve placed information about the importance of literacy and libraries. Not only will people find something to read and inspire them, but they will also learn about why reading is important. Book Seeding and Guerrilla Libraries let people serendipitously find something that inspires them, encouraging them to re-engage with their love of reading and libraries.
Why do it by Sailboat?
Sailing is the world’s oldest green energy powered transportation. The entire Bay Area and Sacramento Delta are accessible by our little 22 foot Sailboat and the majority of the population in this area lives within a few miles of the coastline.Our boat has taken us all over the bay and has allowed us to access some otherwise hard to reach coastal communities. Our boat has taken us all over the bay and through some fairly heavy wind and weather without any trouble. In the same way, we believe that reading and literacy can help everyone weather life’s tempests and come out on top.
You Can Follow Us Along the Journey
We invite you to follow along and see where we drop the books and install the Guerrilla libraries. We have a website that describes everything that we are doing on our journey. Follow us on this journey as we rebuild our larger ocean going boat called Surprise Me II, or follow our long-term goal of journeys across the ocean to spread literacy to coastal communities around the world.
We Need New Sails!
This is the reason we’re here. While we already have more books than we can handle and all the supplies we need to get the book seeding and libraries up and running, we’re still just a couple of folks who are paying for all of this out of our own pocket. We desperately need new sails to reach out to communities who are further away and to more safely navigate the Bay.
We spent the winter shaking down our boat and sailing it all over the bay and now our over 20 year old mainsail (the triangle sail on the mast) is too blown out of shape for us to safely use anymore. It’s also summer sailing on the bay which means that there’s no wind in the morning and in the afternoon there can regularly be wind well over 25 knots! The problem is that right now we have three Jib Sails (the big sails on the front of the boat) of different sizes instead of rolling furling. So, when the wind starts to blow, we have to send someone to the front of the boat to take a large sail down and put up a small one. This can be pretty dangerous! With a Roller Furling system and sail we can change the size of the sail with a pull of a line from the relative safety of the cockpit.
What Your Money Goes to
1 Main Sail ~$500
1 Roller Furling Jib ~$500
1 Roller Furling System ~$500
Other Miscellaneous bits, pieces, shackles, lines and of course… IndieGoGo’s cut – $500
If We Go Over Our Goal
The worst and best thing about owning a boat is that there’s always something to fix or improve and a day spent messing around on boats is a day well spent. So, what we can do depends on how much money we get. Some of our outstanding projects on the Story Sailboat are:
New Anchor Chain
New Standing Rigging
New Self Steering
New Solar Panels
New Navigation and GPS Devices
New Electrical Systems
How about a new boat altogether?!
But really, all we’re really looking to do is get some new sails to extend our reach and make it safer for us to sail our little boat to all of those hard to reach communities.
If We Don’t Meet Our Goal
Well, lets be honest… We can still sail! But only on days when we’re sure that the wind will be good for the whole time we’re out. This rarely happens on the Bay, especially in the summer, so we’d be hugely limited to where and when we can sail and how far we can reach with our advocacy for literacy and libraries. Basically, we won’t be able to take trips that span multiple days or go long distances from our home port in Redwood City. You can help us reach more people and make a bigger impact all over the bay. Of course, if we don’t make our goal, some kids may never learn to read and they will most surely be led astray into a life of crime and drugs.
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-
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.