Archive for the 'ALA' Category

Judith Krug

Posted in ALA, Libraries on April 13th, 2009

Judith Krug died over the weekend. Krug headed up ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) for decades–since 1967.

Jessamyn West offers a brief post that says it as well or better than I could.

I was slightly acquainted with Krug, and had the chance to chat with her at one or two state library conferences. She was as charming and interesting in person as she was relentless in pushing for the freedom to read and intellectual freedom.

Krug was one of the good ones. She’ll be missed. The work will continue.

Congratulations, Meredith

Posted in ALA, Writing and blogging on March 4th, 2009

Many years ago, I worked with the owner of Pierian Press (then publisher of Library Hi Tech) and the LITA Awards Committee to design the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology.

The award recognizes “outstanding achievement in communicating to educate practitioners within the library field in library and information technology.”

The slate of winners has, almost without exception*, been absolutely first-rate.

This year is no exception. Meredith Farkas has been named this year’s award winner–and richly deserves it. She has done and continues to do excellent work. I’m proud to consider her a friend and colleague, and have certainly benefited from her work–and learned from it.

Congratulations!


*There was one oddity, in 1995, but we’ll leave that one unmentioned.

From Denver to Toronto via sunny California

Posted in ALA on January 27th, 2009

I got back from ALA Midwinter yesterday around 3–with about an hour delay so the plane could be de-iced. (I also discovered Frontier’s, um, interesting policies regarding standby for earlier, not-full flights…amusing.)

I think it was around 12F when I left, and snowing fairly heavily (from my perspective, at least).

It’s currently 57F, clear skies (boo! we need rain!).

I’m finishing a load of laundry, getting ready to print double-spaced versions of speaking notes for the two upcoming presentations, and then getting ready to pack…

To go off to Toronto tomorrow for the Ontario Library Association SuperConference, Canada’s largest library conference. And the Weather Underground suggests it will be, well, about the same in Toronto as it was in Denver, maybe a little warmer but with possible snow every day. I can handle that (assuming safe flying conditions). I really am looking forward to the conference itself.

At this point, I should have clever comments about Midwinter. But I don’t really. A few random notes:

  • It felt like a relatively light Midwinter, so it wasn’t a surprise to see it had slightly fewer than 10,000 people, down significantly from last year. It wasn’t “empty” (if you tried to get a table in the Hyatt’s lobby bar in late afternoon, you could never say that)–but it was light (and, in fact, the Bloggers Salon had less than half the attendance I would have expected). The strongest indication that it was lighter than usual: Each day, I was able to check email and bloglines (at the Internet Cafe or exhibits Internet Room) without waiting in line. That hasn’t happened in years.
  • The first time I’ve sat in on LITA TopTechTrends in a couple of years. Reminded me how happy I am that I dropped off the group (years ago). I was there to get some notes that might add to my OLA SuperConference TopTechTrends presentation. Not so much, actually. I think I won’t offer comments on TTT itself. There’s certainly no shortage of such comments.
  • It was odd being “sidegraded” at the Hyatt Regency: They said I could have the two-bed regular room I’d reserved, but would I take an Aspen Suite at no extra cost? Which meant full wet bar, full-size refrigerator, full-size conference table, seating for at least 11 people (full-size sofa, two easy chairs, six conference-table chairs), around 1000sqft in all… oh, and what made it a sidegrade: A Murphy bed folding down out of the wall, once I moved a couple of coffee tables out of the way. And, as a result, the alarm clock about 10 feet from the bed. (It worked out fine: A PALINET colleague needed a space for a small meeting, so the conference table actually got a little use while I was strolling the exhibits.)
  • Other than the loss of a wool muffler while walking to the LITA Happy Hour Friday evening, I managed: No cold or flu, reasonable sleep, some interesting discussions. Some pretty fair simple meals, some not so great.
  • LITA Publications Committee…well, I’ll deal with that when I get back from Toronto.

Back offline again for another three days…

Off to Denver, offline

Posted in ALA on January 22nd, 2009

Tomorrow morning (way too early, but I like the first flight out), off to Denver for ALA Midwinter Meeting. (My schedule, such as it is, is still here.)

Back next Monday afternoon, for a whole 38 hours before I go off to the airport to go to Toronto.

While I’m at Midwinter, I’ll be offline. (I don’t travel enough to justify a netbook, and there’s no way I’m taking the notebook that has all my stuff with me…it’s really a “notebook as desktop,” too heavy, and that’s too risky for my taste.) There’s a possibility I can check email or comments once or twice, but if the Internet cafe is anything like it usually is, I won’t–lacking the patience.

If you’re at Midwinter and want to chat:

  • I’m at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center
  • I should be at part of the LITA Happy Hour on Friday night (but probably not until 5:45 or 6)
  • I might be in the Hyatt’s lobby bar Friday evening and/or Saturday evening, but on the early side–I’m not one for late nights. (Which is one reason I’m not going to a Saturday evening dinner starting at 8: That’s at least two hours too late for my taste.)
  • Pretty good chance I’ll be at exhibits for a chunk of Sunday late morning and early afternoon.
  • And, to be sure, there’s the Bloggers Salon; I should be there by 6:30 and will stick around for a while unless it’s too noisy…

No posts for the next few days, unless something startling happens as I pack!

OLA and ALA

Posted in ALA, C&I Books, Speaking on January 4th, 2009

Speaking (twice) at OLA

A note for my (dozens? scores? more than one?) of Canadian readers:

I’ll be at the OLA SuperConference in Toronto this year. Attending pretty much the whole thing (arriving Wednesday afternoon, leaving Saturday early afternoon). Speaking twice:

  • Friday, 3:45-5:20 p.m. Session 1320, Shiny Toys or Useful Tools? (About liblogs and library blogs, with a few sidenotes about wikis. Some stuff from the books, some new checkpoints. Some of this may appear in the next-but-one issue of Cites & Insights.) Yes, I know there are, what, 28 other sessions at the same time–and, who knows, maybe I’d rather listen to John Dupuis (who’s on opposite me). [Dupuis' session has been moved.] But anyway…
  • Saturday, 9:05-10:20 a.m., OLITA Spotlight Session, Top Tech Trends. One of three panelists. I’ve never met the other two panelists, but will assume they’re better trendspotters than I am. I’ll be working on possibilities (and maybe attending Midwinter’s LITA Top Tech Trends session to take notes…)

And attending some unknown number of sessions and social events, formal and otherwise. Right now, I have seven sessions and four social events marked as possibilities… It’s my first time at OLA, and I’m very much looking forward to it. And hope the weather and airports work out.

But I’ve also done something a little out of the ordinary, at least for me: Mounted a temporary page here, containing my current tentative schedules for both OLA SuperConference and the 2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting, which I’ll be leaving unusually early (because of OLA, but also because Frontier cancelled their mid-afternoon Denver-San Jose flight, and I wasn’t about to get back home at midnight…)

For OLA and ALA Midwinter both…

The curious among you will see that the ALA schedule is pretty skeletal, other than Saturday. It’s busier than my usual ALA “must do” schedule, to be sure, because I agreed to chair the LITA Publications Committee (and have since realized that I really have done more than my share of this LITA governance stuff, and am feeling to old for it…)

I’m sure some mandatory items will be added to that schedule, which I’ll attempt to keep up to date until shortly before the conference(s). (I’ll delete it post-OLA.)

Meanwhile, if you’d like to get together, feel free to send me email or leave a comment. No guarantees, I’m not a nightowl and not on an unlimited budget, but I’m certainly open to possibilities. (For all I know, a flood of invitations to vendor receptions may be on its way–but since that’s never happened in the past 33 years of attending ALA and Midwinter, I’m not holding my breath.)

If you missed the link above, here it is again–or just look over in the righthand margin, where it says “Midwinter 2009 and OLA 2009 schedules”

AL=OA, in case you hadn’t heard

Posted in ALA on October 17th, 2008

No, not that AL. Or that AL either.

I can’t imagine there are many readers here who haven’t seen this announced on at least one other blog, but George Eberhart is a friend and this is, in fact, a terrific announcement, so here ’tis:

American Libraries Direct–available to everybody

American Libraries‘ weekly e-newsletter, the remarkable American Libraries Direct, is now available to anyone who wants to sign up for it, not just ALA members. When I say “remarkable”–well, maybe I’m easily impressed, but I like AL Direct a lot. You’ll find the signup form and the FAQ here.

AL Inside Scoop–another blog

To quote George’s email directly:

American Libraries has launched its own blog, AL Inside Scoop. Editor-in-chief Leonard Kniffel offers an insider’s view of goings-on at ALA headquarters and what hot topics ALA staffers are talking about in the hallways. Associate Editor Greg Landgraf offers his perspective from “the lower floors” of what many see as the ALA ivory tower.

AL goes Gold OA (although it’s not a refereed scholarly journal)

A few weeks back, I chose not to post about the irony of Elsevier employees preaching to ALA about taking the work of scholars (provided free) and then selling it back to the profession. Partly because, even though it came off a little oddly coming from a branch of Reed Elsevier, the point was still good. (Incidentally, Information Technology and Libraries does now offer gold open acess but with a six-month embargo. Yes, I’m discussing it and the feasibility of at least making the refereed articles immediately open… And as far as I know, ITAL and most other ALA divisional refereed scholarly publications haver for a long time offered rights assignments consistent with green OA.)

Meanwhile, American Libraries has taken the plunge–not that it’s refereed or a scholarly journal, but still:

Login is no longer required to view the current issue of the American Libraries print magazine online (in PDF format), or to view the archives, which date back to the January 2003 issue. Go here. First-time viewers will need to install the ebrary reader to view issues. Firefox 3 users installing the reader for the first time will need a workaround.

I have an interesting track record with American Libraries. AL published a dozen (or so) articles of mine, then gave me a column…and then dropped the column just less than three years later, after 32 editions. I read the magazine and enjoy it, and I’m pleased to see it become openly available. I regard it as the best and, I believe, most widely read magazine in the field.

Three unrelated things

Posted in ALA, Libraries, Speaking, Technology and software on July 8th, 2008

Look, it’s July, we’re in another un-air-conditioned heat wave (with fire-related smog to boot), and my non-work energy–what’s left of it–is going to:

  • Watching, visiting and otherwise coping with our new kitten (adopted two days before I left for Anaheim), who when we let him out for play seems to be terrorizing our six-year-old cat. The kitten’s named “Oz” (he comes and sits on the piano bench when my wife plays “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”–and we are Buffyverse people, for that matter). He can be a handful…
  • Writing some good stuff for Cites & Insights – yes, I did get back some inspiration, and I’m working on it. (After I post this, I’ll start fleshing out an essay I outlined on Sunday).
  • Working on the Big Project I’m semi-committed to. (If there’s any organization that would love to see a longitudinal followup to my two library blogs books, let me know: Without sponsorship, I don’t see expending the time and energy on that Big Project, even though the results might be worthwhile.)
  • Not melting.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice three things that deserve brief comment. You can think of this as a very early Friday post, if you like…

  • On one of the lists I follow, I’m seeing another case of someone from one fringe of librarianship dissing a big sector of the field as outdated and largely irrelevant–and revealing their ignorance of what’s actually happening in the sector. This is always such fun to watch and such a service to the field: Let’s tear down everyone else!
  • Tim Spalding–who’s already told libraries what books you should be and apparently aren’t buying–now wants an open source replacement for Dewey Decimal. He’s not offering any money–but he set up a LibraryThing group where, if you register or LT happens not to be heavily loaded, you can see the discussion. It certainly strikes me that coming up with a way for public libraries to relabel and reshelve all their books, using entirely volunteer labor, is a noteworthy initiative! (I was going to suggest the Proper! Coordinator! for this effort, one who can bring to it a sufficient level of excitement, neologisms, exclamation points, innovative punctuation, and Using Title Capitalization! Whenever Possible…but never mind. I’m in enough trouble with Tim anyway.) [A digression: If you asked 1,000 public library catalog users about sentence vs. title capitalization in OPAC title displays, I wonder whether even 1% would care--or even notice? And yes, I find sentence capitalization for titles odd-looking as well, although not as odd-looking as transcribing the actual title, so commonly in ALL CAPS.]
  • I’m hearing some commentary about vendors being overrepresented among speakers at ALA–and I’d guess you could say the same about other library conferences. I think there’s some justification to the comments… But this is a complicated area…and one probably deserving a considerably longer and deeper discussion. And this whole area gets tricky, thanks in part to the first really difficult issue: Who’s a vendor? For example: Am I? Was I a year ago? Was I two years ago? What about consultants? What about authors?

I’m staying out of the first discussion for now. I’m certainly staying out of the second one. As for the third…there’s a lot of me that wants to write something substantial here, and there’s a lot of me that wants to stay away from that one as well.

Now, back to “serious” writing (well, after an excursion to a certain Meebo room…)

Gmail space: Wrong, wrong, wrong

Posted in ALA, Books and publishing, Libraries, Media, Technology and software, Writing and blogging on July 4th, 2008

Back on April 30, 2008, I wrote a speculative post: When will Gmail hit seven gigabytes?

As in, when will the space allotted to each Gmail account reach 7,000,000,000 characters (yes, I know that’s not really seven gigabytes, and I explore that in the post).

Here’s what I predicted:

The Fourth of July, give or take a week.

Actually, if they’re adding space at a steady rate–which is a huge “if”–then it should be either July 4 or July 5, 2008.

I also promised that, if I was wrong, I would double my monthly contribution to Gmail.

I was wrong. And, as a result, I’ll send Google $0, which is twice the usual $0 that I’d send them.

“Give or take a week” ain’t going to do it. Right now, the magic number is at something over 6,893 megabytes. It might (or might not) reach 6.9 gigabytes (let’s just use “disk gigabytes” as our measure, shall we?) within a week.

The lesson here? Google’s magic number doesn’t grow at a constant rate. It’s been growing more slowly over the last nine weeks than it was during the period I observed it. It could start growing more rapidly. Since my insider’s knowledge of the Gmail magic number is precisely the same as my insider’s knowledge of anything else at Google–that is,

Just because I live in Mountain View (where the Googleverse is located) doesn’t mean I know anything about Google’s inner workings.

Oh, and as for Google somehow duping librarians…sorry, but I don’t buy it.

Sure, Google’s librarian-outreach project stalled pretty rapidly–but I still don’t see that Google duped Michigan, UC, Harvard, or anyone else. I still see Google Book Search as increasing demand for library books by providing expanded search capabilities…and I wish Open Content Alliance (by which I mean the Internet Archive) would get their act together on providing a suitable complement, particularly now that Microsoft’s dropped Live Books (which I thought was a superior product to Google Book Search, at least in terms of usability of the public-domain results).

And with that, enjoy the long weekend. Oh, and if you’re one of my two readers anxiously following the “will he or won’t he?” story…more about that later, but the short answer is “Probably.” And a couple of thoughtful remarks at Anaheim have a lot to do with that short answer.

Back, sort of

Posted in ALA on July 1st, 2008

The good news: Anaheim did have the desired positive affect, I think…once I recover from the conference.

Which always takes a day or three.

I probably won’t post a lot about the conference itself. (Relatively poorly-attended, probably because of travel costs, and I think that’s the future; actually reasonably convenient; the program I spoke at was up against 36 or 37 other programs at the same time…), but did have a couple of odd notes relating to the Hilton, which is undergoing renovation:

  • The close-door button in the elevators actually seemed to be connected. That’s quite unusual, in my experience: Usually it’s just there as a feel-good device but does nothing at all.
  • They do have a 13th floor (but no 10th floor)–but a bellman says that, when the renovation is done, the 13th floor will probably go away (and the 10th floor appear). Too bad…
  • I turned down the chance to overlook Disneyland on the 9th floor–thus giving me a great direct view of the nightly fireworks–in favor of one of the “new’d” (renovated) rooms. Nice enough (actually quite nice) but with two oddities…
  1. The Hilton has the usual “save some soap and water” thing–if your towels are on the racks, you’ll reuse them; if they’re on the floor, you want them replace. Fine–except that there weren’t any towel racks except for the one holding two bath towels. Really no place to hang a hand or face towel….
  2. The new rooms have widescreen 32″ high-def LCD TVs (LG). But…and maybe this is only until renovation is complete…the TV service is analog cable, not digital. And it’s been preset so that regular TV is broadened a bit to use the 16×9 screen. The result, for shows that are already widescreen, is that you still get black bars above and below the picture…which is still distorted to fit the screen. It’s called “the worst of both worlds,” and no available adjustments seemet to fix it (probably because hotel TVs have most direct user adjustments locked out). If they switch to digital cable/satellite, the TV will presumably handle some or most of this… On the other hand, I do see why so many owners of HDTVs apparently don’t realize they’re not seeing HD (because they’ve never set it up): I found that the standard-def signals looked pretty good, by and large, adjusting for the distortion.

What does any of that have to do with the conference? Well, I said “sort of.” Maybe more later–but only after I read a few hundred other posts and see whether I have anything new to offer.

My session? Room for 300 (I think). Started with 36. Peaked at about 60. Ended with about 30. Given the competition, none of this is surprising (LITA Top Tech Trends was just one of the three dozen competitive programs at this time slot). Heck, the same division and same unit within the division had a competitive program, on the same program track, at the same time…

What’s that interest group doing in Anaheim?

Posted in ALA on June 26th, 2008

Before I pack up to fly out tomorrow, I did a last-minute check on one of several things that concerns me about LITA (and it will be, to some extent, part of my agenda as incoming LITA Publications Committee chair–just as fair warning).

To wit, what are the LITA Interest Groups planning to discuss during ALA Annual?

As far as I can tell, there are 19 active LITA Interest Groups (and another 17 inactive).

I was able to get some information on 10 of the 19…but only by going to four different resources. I’m also being generous–in some cases, the only info was on formal programs, with nothing about business meeting or discussions.

  • The LITA database, seemingly the most natural place to start, and the place you get to from ALA as the “key resource” if you search LITA: Zero. Not one IG had notes on Annual 2008 plans.
  • The LITA blog: Two interest groups had posts that related to ALA 2008, and both were appropriately tagged.
  • The LITA wiki–seemingly the second most natural place to go, as you’d assume there would be a nice neat page with links: Two interest groups (not the same two as in the blog) had notes relating to ALA 2008.
  • LITA-L, the LITA list–seemingly the least likely place, especially if LITA’s trying to attract newbies to the fold, and especially since you have to do some work to find this stuff: Eight, but two of those were also in the blog. Six new.

In the division of ALA that should be most concerned with effective communication through technology, barely over half the interest groups provided any information. (Maybe they did on their own lists, but that really doesn’t count: IGs should not be closed circles.) And only four out of 19 provided such information in “contemporary” formats.

LITA doesn’t lack for the tools–hey, there’s a database, a blog, a wiki, a list! What more could you ask for?

What’s lacking is the content. I sometimes wonder whether unused or barely-used tools are worse than no tools at all…

Well, that’s my final pre-ALA grump. And for my frends in ERM, Internet Resources, NextGen Catalogs and Open Source Systems: Congratulations. You’re the few and the proud.

Now to pack and make ready for Anaheim, sun screen and all. See some of you at the LITA Happy Hour? (Not at the beginning, but eventually.)


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