Archive for the 'ALA' Category

Hoping for inspiration in Anaheim

Posted in ALA, Writing and blogging on June 22nd, 2008

I had a great two-week vacation (discussed briefly here), sorely needed after two years without a real vacation. Didn’t do any writing (didn’t have a computer). Other than checking on work email every couple of days, didn’t do anything involving the web or computers. Read seven books–three nonfiction, four fiction–and three SF magazines. Saw lots of glorious scenery. And so on…

One off note maybe told me something: For the first week, every night I was having truly boring and irritating dreams–”procedural dreams” that went on and on, not nightmares–and they all involved the workplace (a composite of the few places I’ve worked full time). The second week, not so much.

Got back, refreshed in body–but still a little down, both in energy and (more important) in inspiration. Not so much as to be hopeless, but enough to be tired and to find it tiresome. The last two-three days, I could use the unseasonable heat as an excuse, but “excuse” is the right word. (Looks like the hot spell has subsided; we’re back to the mid- to high 70s from the mid to high 90s, and supposed to stay there for a week+..)

I think I know what’s going on. The dreams are a clue. I’m finally processing last year–what happened and what didn’t. I learned a lot about the worth of two careers, the library systems one and the writing one. ALA Annual 2007 was in some ways a defining moment, and that was probably unfortunate.

At the time, I was involved with enough different projects and enough ongoing ideas that momentum carried me for a long time. The challenges of a new editing gig helped as well (and the PALINET Leadership Network continues to be worth my time and your attention).

So it took a while for it all to sink in. I think–I hope–that’s happened. I hope–I believe–it will start getting better. For the moment, though, there’s sort of a lull. It’s partly timing. It’s partly inspiration. It’s partly, to be honest, thinking about impact and reality–wondering whether the work is still worth it, and particularly whether any ambitious ideas are good ideas or just plain stupidity. This is a complicated area, one I might (or might not) write about between now and ALA.

I’m hoping ALA Annual 2008 will mark a turning point, that I’ll emerge with more inspiration and recovered energy. Maybe just as a milestone; maybe because ALA can be inspiring in its own odd ways. Based on past experience, I assume that this, too, will pass. If not, of course, there’s plenty of time to think about what does make sense for the future. I’ve always said I’d keep writing (and, when invited, speaking) as long as people continued to be interested in what I have to say. Raw numbers suggest you still are, although there are fewer links and comments than in the past–but that formulation leaves out one other “as long as”: “and as long as I’m still inspired to write.”

See you in Anaheim? Say Hi. I’m terrible with names and still an introvert, but I’m almost always approachable and ready to chat. And if I seem to be in a hurry…that’s just the way I walk, and shouldn’t carry any deeper meaning.

Bloggers Salon: Palisades, not Avila

Posted in ALA, Writing and blogging on June 20th, 2008

You may note a change in my ALA schedule–not in the events, but in one key location.

To wit, the OCLC Bloggers Salon (which is a salon for all bloggers, hosted by OCLC–no invitation required, no registration) is Sunday, June 29, 2008, 5:30 to 8 p.m., in the Hilton Anaheim–but in the Palisades room, not Avila.

That’s a change from the announcement at It’s All Good. I spotted it in Roy Tennant’s ALA schedule, and it’s now been confirmed by Roy Tennant, Alice Sneary and George Needham.

Remember: That’s Palisades, not Avila. (Probably not a big deal. They say they’re right around the corner from one another, OCLC also has events in Avila, and there will be signs…)

If you’re one of those going and you’re blogging about your schedule, you might spread the word. And I’ll see you there. (I’ll be one of the ones without mouse ears…and also without a computer. Maybe with an LSW ribbon, or a LITA Former President ribbon, or both, depending on what connections I manage to make…)

Experient, ALA, and treating first-class mail as junk

Posted in ALA on June 18th, 2008

If you’re going to Anaheim and get an envelope from Experient–it’s almost certainly NOT junk mail.

It’s probably your ALA badge and exhibit card.

And you’ll notice that it has $0.59 postage, which junk mail would almost never have.

Yes, I know, I’m as likely as anyone else to discard junk mail unopened–but that gets a little tricky:

  • You should probably open solicitations for credit cards and shred the actual application form–and those tend to show up as first-class mail.
  • Similarly, other very individualized “junk” mail may included pages that you don’t want someone fishing out of your garbage.

One simple rule of thumb is that you should always open first-class mail. Sure, some of it’s still junk, but you’re only out a few seconds to open the envelope and scan the contents. Unless you get a lot more of it than we do, this won’t cost you more than an hour a year, and probably not that much.

Get the Word Out: an ALA program you might consider

Posted in ALA, Libraries, Speaking on June 17th, 2008

The name: “Get the Word Out: How to Do It; Marketing for Small and Rural Libraries”

The time and place: Sunday, June 29, 2008, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Hilton, Pacific Ballroom B (but check the final schedule)

The sponsor: Public Library Association (PLA) Library Development Cluster (LDC)

The description:

No matter how small your library, effective marketing is the key to success. Hear how small libraries across the country are leveraging simple marketing techniques to make their libraries vital to their communities. Marketing basics and practical tips for developing a strategy, executing that strategy, and measuring effectiveness will be provided.

I’m speaking (based on the articles on “The Storied Library” I wrote last year for WebJunction), but there are also four experts on the program: Diana Bitting (PALINET), Edward James Elsner (Delton District Library), Beth Nicholson (Clarksburg-Harrison PL) and Annette Wetteland (State Library of iowa). I expect to learn something…

For reasons that escape me, the preliminary program (and, thus, Library Journal’s set of program picks) describes me as “Creator, Author, Publisher, OCLC.” I don’t know where “creator” came from, and I haven’t worked for OCLC since September 2007–but I’m certainly a publisher (Cites & Insights) and author. I should note that that odd word gave John Berry a chance for a shot. Quoting from “Shifting with the Paradigm,” Berry’s set of program choices:

[The speakers] will preach that effective marketing is the key to success and to your library’s future. They promise marketing basics and practical tips. When the “creator” preaches, who dares not to listen?

I certainly don’t plan to do any preaching and I don’t call myself the creator, but that’s OK. It should be a good program, and I expect to be the least interesting and informative speaker there–but I’ll do my best..

ALA schedule so far

Posted in ALA on June 16th, 2008

Of course I’ll be at the 2008 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim–and if you’d like to chat over a drink or whatever, let me know in advance. (I’ll have a cell phone, mostly for emergency use; if you want the number to text me with a possible several-hour delay for receipt, send me email before Friday, June 26.)

Here’s my schedule so far, with mandatory or nearly-mandatory items in boldface. Open times are, so far, open. (I’d love to attend a couple of LITA interest groups–but so far, as usual, it’s hard to find out what most of them are planning to talk about, although it’s always fun to de-spam the LITA Wiki while attempting to find out):

Friday, June 27, 2008

  • American Eagle 3122, San Jose 10:05 a.m.-Orange County 11:30 a.m.
  • Staying at the Hilton Anaheim
  • 5-6ish?: WebJunction reception, Marriott Salon A-D
  • 5:30-8 (some part): LITA Happy Hour, Mist Pool Bar, Hotel Menger

Saturday, June 28, 2008

  • 8-9 a.m.: LITA IG and Committee Chair meeting, Crowne Plaza, Cabo San Lucas B
  • 10:3-12: LITA Committee Chairs, Marriott 304
  • 1:30-3: LITA Publications Committee, Hyatt Salon I
  • 4-5:30: Science Fiction and Fantasy: IT and individual rights, Convention Center 304 A/B

Sunday, June 29, 2008

  • Morning: Exhibits unless later appointments come into play.
  • 1:30-3:30: Get the Word Out: How to Do It/Marketing for Small and Rural Libraries (speaking), Hilton, Pacific Ballroom B.
  • 5:30-8 (some part): OCLC Bloggers’ Salon, Hilton, Avila Palisades - note change in room.

Monday, June 30, 2008

  • 10:30-1: Private PLN-related meetings (includes lunch).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

  • American Eagle 3161, Orange County 1:15 p.m.-San Jose 2:30 p.m.

Best chances to run into me without prior arrangements: on Friday, the LITA Happy Hour (prob. 6:30-8ish); on Saturday, the LITA Publications Committee; on Sunday, the program I’m speaking at–and it should be an interesting program (since there are four other people who know what they’re talking about) and, to be sure, the OCLC Bloggers Salon.

If you’d like to get together for drinks, lunch, dinner, whatever, or if you know of a LITA IG that’s likely to suit my tastes, let me know in advance–as usual, I travel without technology and don’t expect to check email during the conference.

Wir werden zu früh altes und zu spätes intelligentes

Posted in ALA on May 5th, 2008

I don’t know that my German grandparents (the Gruenig side) ever said it that way to me, but I’ve certainly heard the English version often enough:

We grow too soon old and too late smart.

I’m not sure why, but Roy Tennant’s response to my comment on this blog post brought that saying to mind. To wit:

  • Roy said “I’ve been to more ALA conferences than I care to count, and know exactly how I can be most effective there (even if I don’t always completely follow through…)”
  • I commented (among other things): “You know exactly how you can be most effective at ALA? I’ve been going for 33 years, and I’m still not sure…”
  • Roy responded: “Yes, Walt, I DO know how I can be most effective, and I can say it one word: Bars. That’s right, I can be most effective having conversations with people over our favorite drinks, whether it be diet soda or The Macallan. You won’t find it on the official schedule but there it is. Set up your meetings in advance with the folks you most want to hook up with. The rest is, well, up to you. As I’m sure you know. :-)

Now, before you think I’m poking fun at Roy Tennant for achieving age before wisdom, be aware that the title of this post is reflexive: I’m talking about myself, not Tennant.

I’d guess I had no bar-style meetings set up in advance with the people I should have been meeting with for most of the Midwinters and Annuals I’ve attended (and certainly not for most conferences I’ve attended as a speaker). Oh, sure, some of them–but even then, maybe one or at most two per conference. And I suspect that’s been a mistake all along the way–that I’ve let my introversion get the better of me, failing to do enough networking.

I won’t say “and that’s why Roy Tennant is Roy Tennant and I’m not.” There’s much more to it than that. But it probably plays a small part.

So am I going to reform–make sure that Anaheim is chock-full of bar sessions with people I want to hook up with, for our mutual benefit? And Denver after that? And Chicago, Boston, Washington, San Diego, New Orleans… (Hey! Where’s San Antonio? Dallas for Midwinter but not San Antonio? Really?)

Probably not. I don’t think I’m angling to be the next Walt Crawford, whatever that might mean.

But that’s my failing. As they said in the old country, “wir werden zu früh altes und zu spätes intelligentes”

Update: Title and last line modified, although I have no idea which “original saying” is really original.

C is for Laptop

Posted in ALA on April 30th, 2008

You know, that explains a lot…

Your Annnual Conference and You

Some notes in lieu of a new year’s post and Midwinter post

Posted in ALA, C&I Books, Cites & Insights, Technology and software, Travel, Writing and blogging on January 8th, 2008

Call it ego, but I don’t think I can let this go unremarked, although I apparently tried for three days…

“This” is a really interesting post by Dorothea Salo about the power of blogging in specific situations–but that’s not the reason I’m linking to it. (It might be the reason it turns up in a C&I piece–or might not–but that would be because of the real content.)

Nope. It’s this paragraph:

Over the last couple years I’ve learned that I can do professional writing, though it takes a hell of a lot out of me and I don’t think I will ever find it easy. Speaking is worlds easier, and whole universes more fun. (Combine Walt Crawford, to whom good writing comes as naturally as breathing, and me and you’d have one frighteningly effective public-figure librarian.)

Thanks, Dorothea. Not that I wasn’t a pretty good speaker back when I was in demand, but “to whom good writing comes as naturally as breathing…” Wow. Them’s kind words.

And, as I noted back to her in email, “Sometimes I have trouble breathing.” Which, fortunately, is not true (although if I ate a banana I might have terminal trouble in that regard)…but there are certainly times I have trouble with (some forms of) writing. Naturally, I’ve written about that too. When I had two monthly print columns, a bimonthly print column, and Cites & Insights, I managed to use “if you’re not ready to write X, write Y instead” to keep from missing deadlines. With two bimonthly print columns and a supposed state of semi-retirement, it’s easier to say “if you’re not ready to write X, read something instead–you’ll get around to it.”

Which I usually do, but it can be painful. When life offers a range of excellent excuses to avoid writing, it can be really painful.

Which is another way of saying that I haven’t written any of the essays for C&I 8:2 yet–and by now, I should have about a third of an issue ready. (Well, I do, but it’s another Offtopic Perspective.) As acute observers of C&I 8:1 may guess, I haven’t really focused on the range of usual C&I topics for a while now, making an exception for book digitization projects… I’m sure that will change after Midwinter. It had better. Of course, now that I’ve published a January issue on January 1, I could theoretically publish a February issue even a little later in February…

What was that slogan from a six-book trilogy (which we saw as a not-all-that-good flick)? Don’t Panic? I won’t. Of course, writing this post (and another one to come) is one way of procrastinating… (I’ve already done the “do Y”: I’m my usual month early on “disContent” with what I think is a tightly focused 850 words that came about partly because I wasn’t ready to work on C&I. And, for that matter, I finished writing Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples partly to avoid working on C&I; it will be available in two or three weeks, after I receive and approve proof copies from Lulu and CreateSpace. $29.50, of course, and just a few pages shorter than Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples. So far, I’m disinclined to combine the two into Walt’s Big Book of Library Blogs, but if I thought there was a market for that $50 580-page combination…)

Serious rambling here. Short form: Thanks, Dorothea. It ain’t always as easy as it looks–although, once I’m ready to write something, the words do flow. (No, I can’t and don’t do “15 minutes every day regardless.” For me, at least, that would yield choppy writing that read like it was written in little pieces…and probably take a lot longer than just not writing on Those Days and settling in when the time is right. My practice. Not suggested or recommended for anyone else.)


I didn’t really do a “here’s what I did last year and am going to do better this year” post, except by inference here and there. Fact is, last year was traumatic in some ways, enormously productive in others, and I don’t regard it as emblematic of any sort of succession. At least I hope not: I’m not sure I could cope.

One motto that popped up at several key points last year and that resounds in my mind when I read certain bits of advice these days does apply–for me, at least.

Life is too short.

Yes, I’ve turned down an invitation because it would put me on the same program with someone who I really couldn’t abide (worse, it would have me introducing someone as a principal speaker, someone who’s insulted me in writing and in public). Either I was being asked to increase the audience size, in which case I’d be lending my cachet (my cachet? I have a cachet?) under false pretenses, since I fundamentally disagree with this other person’s approach and persona–or I was being asked either to create a controversy or out of ignorance as to my stance. Either way, I lose. I’d do the same thing again with no apologies. Life is too short.

Oh, and yes, I’ve avoided some situations because I was pretty sure they’d put me in contact with one of maybe three people in the whole field who I really find grating on a personal level, and the situations didn’t have enough going for them to overbalance that. Why not? Life is too short.

That’s also getting to be my internal response when I see someone with a high-profile speaking or writing gig and think maybe I could have done a better job on it, if I was more of a go-getter. Life is too short, and since I’ve made a deliberate practice of encouraging new writers/speakers and treating people as people regardless of their highfalutin’ reputation or lack thereof, it’s absurd to grump when other people do well. I should celebrate their successes. Mostly, these days, I do. Life is too short to do otherwise.


The trifecta section: Why I’m not posting a Midwinter schedule.

Oh, I’ll be there–from Friday afternoon through Monday night (leaving way too early Tuesday morning, to match my middle-of-the-night drive to SFO on Friday), at the Embassy Suites Center City. I could even say “Of course I’ll be there. Midwinter 2008 is the formal launch of the PALINET Leadership Network. How am I not going to be there?”

But that formal launch also means my schedule will be changing up to the last working hour on Thursday and quite possibly beyond. If I can talk to people from library publications about PLN (open to all English-reading [potential] library leaders, free, great stuff), I will, and those who are trying to set things up know that. I’ll probably spend some time at the PALINET booth as well, although maybe not a lot–PALINET has a lot going on this conference, what with VuFind, Villanova University’s “open source discovery tool that replaces the traditional online public access catalog (OPAC) without requiring a new integrated library system (ILS).”

What I think I know so far, all subject to change:

  • I hope to make part of the LITA Happy Hour Friday, and maybe head off with some strange colleagues (you know who you are) afterwards, but it’s a hope, not an expectation.
  • I plan to attend the ALCTS Medium Heads DG on Saturday morning, since it’s on a topic of particular interest for PLN (succession planning).
  • I will most definitely attend PALINET’s member reception, which probably means I’ll miss another reception that I would normally make a point of attending.
  • I might hit LITA Public Library Technology IG on Saturday morning and NextGen Catalogs IG Sunday afternoon. I might not.
  • I’ll probably be at part or all of that saloon thingy–oh, wait, Blogger’s Salon, not saloon. Or not: There may be conflicts there as well.
  • So far, Monday’s wide open. I imagine that will change.

I anticipate having at least two and maybe four or more other meetings scheduled while I’m there. I also anticipate lots of time in the exhibits–and if the weather turns out to be nice, Philadelphia is a great walking town.

Want to get together? Send me a note before Thursday evening. I’ll have a cell phone, but only outbound and only for emergencies–and no, I’m not Twittering.


Ah, what the heck. Now that I’ve killed three birds with one post, why not go for a foursome?

I don’t carry a portable computer. My wife owns one, but it’s one designed for good value rather than light weight.

I’ve thought about the possibility that what I’m doing might make it much more desirable at some point to change that practice–to have “something” along when I’m traveling so I can do web-based things and maybe a little lightweight writing. I’ve also thought about my desire for traveling light, my sometimes-frugal nature, and my bad habit of leaving valuable things sitting around places (otherwise known as “Why I carry a $5 compact umbrella, not a $20 Totes”).

If I did need access on the road, I’m pretty sure I know what I’d buy, at least in today’s market. Hmm. Inexpensive. Semi-decent full keyboard. Decent screen. VERY lightweight and fairly rugged.

Nope, not that one. I’d give you the reasons, but only in person.

This one, silly as its name is: eee–by Asus. Two pounds, 7″ screen, not touch-typable but a plausible undersize keyboard, wifi built in, 4GB memory (flash, of course) for $400…

Yes, it runs Linux (Ubuntu, I think). That seems like the sensible thing to use on this kind of cut-down, hard-diskless PC.

Am I likely to get one of these (or some equivalent)? Unless someone’s in a silly mood, only time will tell. Frankly, all else being equal, I really rather like being off the air when I’m traveling.

If you’re going to Anaheim..

Posted in ALA on January 2nd, 2008

A word to the wise:

Housing reservations online for ALA Annual opened today.

I just finished making reservations. And got, oh, maybe my 15th choice of place–the others being waitlisted, already full, or only suite/concierge availability.

(It will probably turn out to be a decent choice for someone with a sense of humor…never thought I’d be staying at a mid-level Disneyland Resort hotel for ALA, though. Not a “good neighbor”–a Disney property.)

A more important word to the wise:

Some of the distance indicators on the online search-response form are just plain wrong. In one case, the form shows half a block and the hotel’s own website says “2 miles.” I’ve never heard of a hotel overstating its distance from a convention center… (Too bad. Otherwise, that hotel looks like an interesting choice.)

Ho ho ho: Seasonal miscellany

Posted in ALA on December 24th, 2007

If I do a “year in review,” it would come a week or so from now–but I’m unlikely to do one anyway. You’ve already heard enough here and in Cites & Insights. Meanwhile, a few random notes…

  • We’d always been ones to get stuff done at work over the “missing week” (between Christmas and New Year’s). With no place of work to go to in any case, that’s gotten a little stranger. Still, we’ll go spend the day with my immediate family tomorrow and go celebrate the new year (and our 30th anniversary) a week from tomorrow with an old and dear friend…and in between, well, carry on.
  • One or two of you might be surprised that the first 2008 Cites & Insights isn’t out yet, given past history. It’s mostly written (and an odd one it is), with one probable exception (see next bullet). My current plan is to publish it very early in the new year–say January 1 or 2. After all, most of you aren’t around anyway, and if you are, the last thing you want to do is read a 15,000-word retrospective and commentary on Google Book Search and the Open Content Alliance (and a couple of shorter essays). Right?
  • The exception: I’m almost certainly going to do a book version of Cites & Insights 6: 2006; I really like having a paperback instead of a Velobound cumulation, even if nobody else buys it. There will be something extra for those who do buy it, though. With Volume 7, it’s the phantom issue. With Volume 6, it’s a prefatory essay that I’ll start writing today, and which will include some details on losses and major changes among the liblogs profiled in 2005 and 2006. I’ll probably do a summary post, but the details will only be in the book. Of course, it’s also a neat packaged way to get both of my major essays on Library 2.0, and it will cost the same as (or less than) that separate package would have, if I’d had the will to do all the footnotes and bibliography/index needed to make it a book. (Which is to say: $29.50, only from Lulu. I’ll post an announcement when it is available.) If I do the book version, I’ll probably open C&I 8:1 with an announcement for both book versions…and, as time permits, see whether it’s feasible to do earlier volumes in book form.
  • I am going to Midwinter, and other than Saturday evening and Sunday early evening, my schedule’s still pretty much open. If you’d like to get together for something, send me a note. Given that I didn’t have a big network of local friends, telecommuting can be a trifle isolating–Midwinter will be a nice chance to spend some face-to-face time with people.
  • If you’re wondering about the Academic Library Blogs project (is anyone?): The research portion is done. Now it’s a matter of crunching numbers, writing the first few chapters, editing the blog-based chapters, choosing a cover image…possibly sometime in January. Possibly later.
  • You’re still invited to join the PALINET Leadership Network; go to PLN and click on “Log in/Create account” and create an account. Good stuff!

Have a good whatever it is you have. Enjoy; life’s too short not to.


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