#calibconf Battledecks: The Battle Continues!

Announcing the triumphant return of Battledecks to the California Library and School Library Conference!

This fun and exciting program will challenge some of the best Library Presenters in California to show their skill and test their mettle!

Presenters will battle it out to give the best improvisational presentation based upon a set of 10 often humorous, unrelated, and hand-created slides that they are seeing for the first time live on stage. The presenters will face tough judgment and scrutiny from an unbiased and inscrutable team of judges. The best presenter will be determined based upon a variety of criteria but most importantly on their overall level of AWESOME! The most awesome presenter will walk away with the pride and honor of being crowned CLA/CSLA Battledecks champion of 2011.

Awesomeness, entertainment, and hilarity, along with a healthy dose of learning, is guaranteed for all!

Following the state library reception at 7:30pm in the Convention Center Main Deck from 7-8 pm (the same time)

Contenders for the title: (Could it be you? Volunteer!!)

1) Stacy Aldrich
2) Oleg Kagan
3) Derek Wolfgram
4) Lorin Bowen Ayre (Defending Champion)
5) Glen Warren
6) Jennifer Baker

Judges: (Could it be you? Volunteer!!)
1) Rosario Garza
2) Sam McBane Mulford
3) Hildie Verlaine Kraus
4) Kirby McCurtis

Emcee: Patrick Sweeney
Timekeeper/Vanna White: Andrea Davis
Slidemakers: Patrick Sweeney, Ashley Kagan (Burdick), Stephanie Roach
Logo (coming soon): __Anyone a graphic artist?____

Halftime Entertainment: Joan Frye Williams and George Needham in an exhibition Team Battledecks round!

Prizes: (To be Announced)

For more information or to register view the event on Facebook

Library Good News: The FCC Knows How Important Libraries Are!

I received this email from the fabulous Bobbi Newman on the ALA Council Listserv about today’s FCC announcement regarding broadband adoption that highlights the role of libraries now and in the future. Bobbi wrote up a fantastic (and analytical) post about it already so I’ll just highlight the part that is about libraries so you don’t have to read the whole thing. Here is the part most related to libraries;

For millions of Americans, libraries are the only place where they can get online. For millions more, libraries are an important complement to at-home connectivity, and they remain, as they always have been, a trusted resource in communities.

During the day, libraries have become job centers and librarians career counselors – and after school a place where many students go to do homework online. Last year, more than 30 million Americans used library connections to seek and apply for jobs, and 12 million children used them to do homework. Millions of others are using library connections for health information. Many – but not enough – of America’s 16,000 public libraries have become vital centers for digital literacy.

Librarians are helping meet some of the vast need — and I applaud them. But according to a recent Gates Foundation-funded survey, only 38% of all libraries offer a basic digital literacy class. In rural areas, in places like West Virginia, it’s only 25% of libraries. That’s a big missed opportunity. We should aim to double those numbers.

The E-Rate program – one of our most successful programs – connects schools and libraries to the Internet. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the great champion of E-Rate who, along with Senator Olympia Snowe and others, created the program, once said, “Our classrooms and our libraries are often the only way that our children and citizens can tap into the wonders of computers and the links to a vast world of information and knowledge. We want schools to be a place where children delve into computers. We want libraries to be vibrant centers of learning for families.”

In that spirit, we plan to launch a proceeding to explore how the E-Rate program can expand access to digital literacy training at more public libraries and schools across the country and, ultimately, forming a Digital Literacy Corps.

Could Google+ Ruin Your Online Personal Brand?

So I got a google+ invite (just bragging)! While I was exploring this new social media and talking to friends and happily putting them all in all of their specifically labeled circles, I started thinking about the amount of metadata that we are creating for each other and about each other. I started thinking about twitter lists, facebook groups, and other classifications in the multitude of social media platforms that we, our company, or our brand, is being put into against our will and without our control.

I understand that people have had these concerns with FB already because they are already doing some of it in a way. But I think that Google is slightly different because people “like” a company on FB or “friend” me and its pretty much exclusive to FB, whereas people “Google” me to find all of my online persona or a company’s online presence. These groups and pages in FB don’t have an effect on people’s search results for me within FB. But, my friends’ classification of me could have a strong impact on what search terms are used to find me or have a strong impact on my public online identity.

Here is another difference, I think. FB uses my groups and likes data to send me more specific and better targeted ads and recommendations. I’m the only one who is really affected by this data because I see the ads and recommendations when I’m online. I see the results of people’s classifications of me. And, for the most part, I’m the only one who does. However, Google can more effectively use this “circle” data to influence the search results for me. Results that anyone can see, that influence how people find me, and that the public can associate with my online brand identity.

This is because these lists and groups generate a massive amount of metadata about our online persona. I originally thought about Google+’s collection of this data specifically because they are in the search, metadata, and ad business. My first thought was how my friends’ classification of me in circles would affect search results for my public online identity (PC Sweeney) that I spent a lot of time constructing. Would it be completely upended because people started putting me in the “douchebag” circle? Would it be possible that whenever someone searched for “assholes” I would rise to the top of the search results because that’s how people had classified me? Or, would I simply continue to be put in the “librarian” circle? Or even… dare I say it? That searches for “awesome” would bring me to the top of Google searches?

But, ok… Let’s just say that I’m put in the asshole circle, twitter list, and facebook list (because that’s more fun). How will that affect my job search or my career advancement? People potentially could see my online brand through search results, and people’s classification of me that I am branded as an asshole. My boss, or future boss could learn about this and it could ruin my career.

While, I think this would be mostly funny, I wonder about larger companies that have been branded by these lists such as BP, PG&E or Walmart. How can they control it? I don’t think they can either. They could try to avoid social media all together to try to limit their classifications. But then what about FB Places or Yelp that automatically generated a social media space for that company? Avoiding social media would be wrong too.

So what is the solution? In the future, starting now, it is going to be more and more important to not be an asshole and more important to just be awesome.


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Greg’s (My boss) New Orleans Recommendations #ala11 #alatt

I got this email from our assistant director in the library system where I work. His name is Greg Bodin and he used to live in New Orleans and really knows all about where to eat drink and what to see in New Orleans. This list was really good so I thought I would share it with more than just our staff.

From Greg:
These are just a few recommendations.  Having been to many conferences, one never really has time to see lots of things but I suggest these as worth your time while visiting New Orleans.  Of course, please contact me if you have questions or would like other recommendations.

Things to see
The conference takes place at the Convention Center, which is in the Warehouse District.  The Warehouse District is adjacent to the French Quarter, the Garden District, the Central Business District and Uptown.  Lots of things are walking distance or an easy cab ride.  I indicate if things are a bit farther afield.  Below are things I enjoy.

Warehouse District:
Contemporary Arts Center
This is New Orleans’ main museum for contemporary art – also a really cool space.

World War II Museum
A really great museum – even if you aren’t a history buff.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art
This is one of my favorites – it is a collection of traditional and contemporary art from throughout the South.

French Quarter:
Jackson Square
This is the center of the City.  While New Orleans is a very French city, it’s design and architecture reflects it’s time as a Spanish colonial city.  Jackson Square is reminiscent of the plazas and zocolos in Latin American counties.  Central to the square is St. Louis Cathedral.  The Cathedral is flanked by the Prebytere (originally a residence for the Bishop) and the Cabildo (originally the main government building).  On either side of the square are the Pontalba Apartments.  All of these are worth a visit.

Moonwalk
Directly in front of Jackson Square, the Moonwalk is an elevated walkway along the

Mississippi River 
You get a great view of the Mississippi and a pleasant walk that can take you from Jackson Square back to the Convention Center.

Algiers Ferry
The Algiers Ferry connects downtown New Orleans to the Algiers neighborhood across the Mississippi River.  The Ferry is free for pedestrians and is a great way to experience the River.

Royal Street
A stroll on Royal Street is a lovely way to see beautiful architecture and do a bit of window shopping.  Royal Street is the traditional shopping street in the French Quarter and is filled with art galleries and antique stores.  Check out the beautiful Supreme Court Building on the walk.

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is best experienced in the evening.  Even if you are a teetotaler it is worth checking out the spectacle.  If you aren’t a teetotaler there are plenty of places to quench your thirst.  Be warned that Bourbon Street gets touristy.  If you want to go where the locals go, head to Pat O’Brien’s.

Historic New Orleans Collection
A wonderful little gem of a museum, archive and library.  This is one of the principle repositories for historic New Orleans documents, ephemera, books, etc.  I highly recommend it.

Uptown/Garden District:
St. Charles Streetcar
The oldest continually operating streetcar in the county.  Both locals and tourists use and love the streetcar.  I highly recommend getting on Downtown and heading Uptown for a ride.  Warning: it isn’t air conditioned.

Magazine Street
This is the main shopping street for Uptown New Orleans.  It is really long and filled with lots of cool stores and restaurants, ranging from funky to high-end.

Audubon Park/Zoo
One of the most beautiful parks and zoos in the country.  You can also take a boat from the French Quarter to the Zoo and get a ride on the Mississippi River.

New Orleans Public Library: Latter Branch
Sadly, the New Orleans Public Library is a poorly funded institution that has suffered from years of neglect.  Visiting New Orleans Public libraries will make you realize how lucky we are at the San Mateo County Library.  However, a visit to the Latter Branch is always a treat.  The branch is located in a beautiful old mansion in Uptown New Orleans.

Bars

French Quarter:
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
A great bar for ambiance.  The building is one of the oldest in New Orleans.

Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
A fun bar in a beautiful old New Orleans hotel.

Napoleon House
This is one of my favorites in the French Quarter.  You can’t beat the ambiance.  Order a Pimm’s Cup.

Frenchman Street
This is where the locals hang out (as opposed to Bourbon Street).  Lots of clubs and bars and lots of good live local music.  Frenchman Street is located just outside of the French Quarter.

Decatur Street
There are two parts of Decatur Street – the upper part near Canal Street which is touristy and filled with tacky t-shirt shops.  The lower part near Esplanade has numerous bars that are lots of fun and definitely funky.  Molly’s on the Market and Coop’s are my favorites.

Uptown:

The Columns Hotel
A beautiful, old hotel on St. Charles Avenue.  Have a drink on the front porch.

Restaurants

Warehouse District

Herbsaint
Really good New Orleans cooking that is walking distance from the Convention Center.

Emeril’s
This was Emeril Lagasse’s first restaurant in New Orleans and it is still a great place to visit.

Cochon
My favorite Cajun restaurant in New Orleans.

French Quarter

Café du Monde
An absolute must-see.  The place to get coffee and beignets (French doughnuts).  Great any time of the day or night.  Filled with tourists but worth the experience.

Central Grocery
A take-out sandwich place.  They invented the muffaletta sandwich.

NOLA
Emeril’s French Quarter restaurant.

Stella
Really good food – kinda pricey but worth it.

Stanley
Really good food – Stella’s cheaper sister restaurant.

Muriel’s
A beautiful restaurant on Jackson Square in the French Quarter.

Coop’s
Kind of a dump but really good food.  One of my faves.


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So the ALA Think Tank sold out. #ala11 #alatt

So the ALA Think Tank sold out.  But it’s cool, we do it for you.

Andrea Davis brought this to our attention.  Mango Languages is holding a Mango Mania Competition at ALA Annual 2011.  In order to enter the contest we had to submit a video all about where we would Mango.  Luckily, our group had a little “unconference” trip to Tijuana at ALA Midwinter in San Diego and I filmed some awesome footage of that trip.  So, basically, without even planning for it we already “Mangoed.”  It’s interesting how these past unplanned #MIH shenanigans come back to work for us in strange ways.  Here is our video entry –

I’m not going to lie to you. We do get some personal benefit out this competition. The swag and grand prizes are nice (iPad anyone?), but more importantly, the winning team gets credit towards our Mango Languages Subscription at our library system. In the financial state that we are living in now, I’m sure you can appreciate my desire to not get laid off and to be able to bring something back to my library system?

But anyway, down to the meat of this post… So how is this good for you?  Well, Mango Languages is giving us some cash for our trip to ALA, but since we all already paid for our trips we decided to spend it on our ALA parties and other off-the-books kinda ALA Think Tank events.  We want to make this the best ALA that we can for all the folks going out to the awesome city of NOLA so let us know what we can do to help make it EPIC for you!

We also wanted to get some good publicity for the Think Tank group that is doing all kinds of awesome stuff.  The folks involved in the group are fantastic librarians who are doing great things!  You can read about this group and what we want to do to revolutionalize from our manifesto.  There are many amazing people involved in this group who are working to make conferences more beneficial to the members of ALA and to ensure that the organization is working for its members.  You can be a part of this amazing group of awesombrarians by joining the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook.

If you want to follow our Mango shenanigans on the Facebook Fan Page (we had to make one as per the rules of the contest) you can check it out here – ALA Think Tank FB Fan Page

You can follow us on Twitter with the Hashtags #ala11 and #alatt or individually as
Librarian JP
Tiffany Mair
Jenn Wann Walker
Patrick Sweeney
Andrea Davis

ALA Think Tank events so far…
ALA Dance Party
ALA Flash Mob and Freeze
What else?  It might be a surprise!


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Deserts, Libraries, Boats… My life

I might not have become a librarian if it weren’t for my local library. I would also not have become a sailor. I grew up in Tucson Arizona in the middle of the desert. I would spend my afternoons walking to the library after school because the librarians were family friends and the library was halfway between my house and the school. I can’t imagine what they thought of this 8 year old kid who read just about every book about sailing while not living within 250 miles of a significant body of water capable of sailing on. I would dream of living on and around boats surrounded by the potential of vast oceans.

But that is the beauty of the library right? In a world without libraries I wouldn’t be a sailor, I obviously wouldn’t be a librarian. Now I live on the ocean on a sailboat. I couldn’t get any closer the where the library of my youth took me.

I think about this a lot while working at my library and watching the young kids that come in. I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, one of these kids living next to the ocean is reading books about the desert, wishing that they could live in Tucson surrounded by cactus and the quiet vastness of the desert.


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The #Partyhard Post: How Partying Can Make Libraries Better

This post stems entirely from @librarianjp and our conversations on FB and his youtube video. From what I understand, he got inspired by Andrew W.K. so I’m researching that guy too. Anyway, I wanted to give him credit for getting me to think about this in a more creative way. Here it is…

Librarians need to party more and party harder. Now I know what you’re thinking! Yes, I have been to ALA and I know that librarians do party pretty well, but my thoughts go beyond this and I can only explain them from some of the things that have happened in my experiences with partying with librarians and what I think can come from librarians embracing some aspects of the #partyhard community.

A Celebration of our Profession
One of the first things that JP said to me about the profession of librarianship and the whole party hard theory was to the effect of needing to celebrate our profession more instead of mourning it. This really hit home for me at the time it was said because I was just reading about layoffs, libraries closing, hours lost, budgets cut, etc… I really feel like there are quite a few people who are quietly mourning the loss of this profession. But there’s no reason that we need to go out quietly. If we do really wind up going out, we should go out loud, kicking, screaming, and celebrating everything that libraries have done for the people of this country for the last 236 years. Really, our fellow librarians have accomplished a whole lot when you sit back and think about it! So now let’s celebrate it!

This leads me to something I despise but I will name it here. It’s a book called “The Secret.” Let me state that I HATE this book for a number of reasons. *But really, the power of the theory behind the book is the power of positive thinking. By believing that what you want can be accomplished you can accomplish it.* So, as a profession we need to begin this cycle of believing we can accomplish everything we need to. I don’t think that this can start from the position of negativity or self-doubt that I keep seeing and hearing but needs to begin from a position of positive actions. What better way to begin this cycle than through a party and celebration of our profession?

Party With Each Other
This is a conversation that I have had many times. In fact, I said something similar here in Loida’s video. The summary is that I’m always a little weary of going to sessions and workshops at conferences. This is generally because these were put together up to a year or more in advance. The people I’m interested in hearing from all write about what they’re excited about online and whatever it is that they’re presenting on was talked about on their blogs, twitter, youtube, etc… when they first thought of it. I almost never learn anything new from sessions. I do, however, learn incredible amounts at the socials and meet-ups. The people I’m excited to learn from are talking directly with me and telling me about what they are working on and excited about right now. I get to ask questions and get feedback on what I’m excited about on a personal level. People say what they wouldn’t or couldn’t say at a workshop and there is a significant barrier that is broken down in the social scene. The end product of this is that I have never learned more than when I partied with the people who I am a geeky fan of.

My other problem was brought up by Andy Woodworth and I fairly snarkly answered that the problem could be solved if we partied more. The problem was that library systems don’t collaborate enough. I think that a large part of the lack of collaboration and sharing between library entities is that many of the people involved in those organizations never meet. So, to help with this, Andrew Carlos and I started some Librarian meet-ups in the Bay area. We have only had two and I’ve only been to one, but at just this one meet-up I found out about a project happening in my neighboring library system that is only about a mile away that would allow for some kind of partnership with a project that I’m working on. If we hadn’t partied together, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity to learn from each other and see what we are each doing. Now, I have new collaborative project for Fall, I know what other libraries in my area are doing, how we can collaborate, and I know new people to plan exciting new services and programs with.

Party with our Patrons and Our Community
This was a completely random and recent thought that I had in the ALA Think Tank group. I have not really tested or tried this so I’ll just throw it in here at the end in case anyone is still reading.

What if we partied with our patrons? What if we just went to the bars in our communities and hung out all night, danced, drank, and really got to know our patrons in ways that we don’t get to know them at the reference desk? What could we learn about their real needs and wants? What would they tell us in a social setting at a bar or restaurant or concert that they wouldn’t tell us in the library? What do you think?

I guess I should say that at some level I have actually done this but not exactly in the way that I was thinking. While I haven’t really tried to make connections by partying in my community, I have partied in my community and I have made some connections. The first was that I was introduced to someone who already knew about my Guitar Project and had been following it because he wanted his organization to donate money to it! He actually knew me before I ever met him! (I was famous in my own mind for like 10 seconds) and the second was that I found out about a local chapter of the group called Guitars not Guns and they also want to help with the guitar project. But again, I wasn’t looking for connections as I’m proposing here, just out for the night. What if I was actually looking to meet folks?

*that summary just saved you $14.00 on Amazon so buy someone a drink.



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A Post from the Past- “It Looks Like They Run The Place”

As I have been exploring my ideas about librarianship the last couple of weeks, I haven’t really written or posted anything lately. I’ve been quietish on Twitter and posted about other things on Facebook. But during this time I went and read the blog I kept while I was in Library school and while I was working as an elementary school librarian. I was reminded of why I became a librarian in the first place.

This post, and a few others to come are going to be reposted from my old blog to remind me what I thought was important and what I still think is important after years of hard labor as a “real” librarian. This post was called:

It Looks Like They Run The Place (and They Do)

At the beginning of the school year one of the students who had helped in the library quite a bit last year asked if he could have a nametag like someone would wear at a real job. Thinking that I would humor him, and besides he had actually done a lot in the library, I made one out of a piece construction paper. It was handwritten, had his name under the words “library assistant” and it was taped to his shirt. He wore so proudly that soon I had a large number of students coming into the library asking if they could be library assistants too. At the time I was putting together my display for October so I told them that if they could find 5 library books about something happening in October to add to the display then they could be library assistants too. Much to my surprise they did it enthusiastically. It took many of them 4-6 days to find all the books but very few students gave up trying. So now, about a month and a half later I have about 15 library assistants.

Here are the new typed nametags. I just like the way they looks all lined up like this.

This means my role in the library has drastically changed. I now have a more of a supervisory role. My assistants have taken on a number of projects of their own that they designed and that they are in charge of. Every once in a while I design a project for them and they take it over, but they are getting better and better at creating some of their own ideas and putting them into action.

One of the projects that I assigned to them was the creation of more posters similar to the ones I had described in an earlier post. After I remove a cover they cut it up and tape it together and staple it to the wall wherever they can find an open space. Here is the picture of their work;

They have also taken over the monthly displays. The display at the front of my desk is reserved for events that take place throughout the month such as holidays during the current month or events that happened in that month. These are where the five books that students find to be a library assistant are displayed.

There is also a display on a long shelf that they completely control. They decide what kind of books are put up there and they create the signage for it. It is completely theirs. This is what it looks like.

Lastly, the students can also create their own books that I catalogue, put in the collection, and allow them to check out. Some of the teachers also have classroom projects where the class creates a book for the library and I do the same with that one as well. Since they are almost always checked out this is the only picture of one that I have.



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Punk-Ass Book Jockey
Librarians Against DRM
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..