Archive for the 'Speaking' Category

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..

If you’re going to Kennewick…

Posted in Speaking on April 17th, 2007

What I didn’t say in yesterday’s odd post:

If you’re going to the Washington Library Association conference, I’ll be there for the whole thing, and I’d love to chat. I’m shy (true), but definitely not formidable. And if I look distracted, just say “Hi Walt,” and I’ll pay attention.

[I know I'll be at the reception tomorrow night, at the 9:45 p.m. session after the reception, and of course at Thursday morning's breakfast. Beyond that, it's a little fuzzy, but I'm there until Saturday morning.]

Moderation in all things

Posted in Speaking, Travel, Writing and blogging on April 16th, 2007

Well, for a few days at least.

My big speaking cavalcade for 2007 begins Wednesday: That is, one (shared) keynote, at the Washington Library Association in Kennewick, WA, on Thursday, April 19. The cavalcade proceeds from there to…well, that’s it, actually.

As usual (when feasible), I’m going to the whole conference. As always, I’m traveling without technology. OK, I might take along my cheapo portable CD player, or I might not, but that’s as far as it goes: No cell phone, no notebook computer, no PDA, no pager, no Blackberry.

I wouldn’t even bother to mention that I won’t be blogging for four days: That’s pretty much par for the course on this sketchy site. But I’m blessed with a fair number of comments–high by liblog standards, if low by “A-list” or political-blog standards.

Unfortunately, a couple of spamments have been sneaking through Spam Karma 2 and WordPress’ native methodologies. Nothing terribly serious or obscene (cross fingers), and I delete them as soon as I spot them, but I’d rather not have them stick around for several days.

So, assuming that the change works (the interactions between Spam Karma 2 and WordPress’ moderating systems are a little mysterious), I’m turning on moderation for all comments tomorrow afternoon (April 17) and will leave it on until I return and have a chance to catch up (probably Sunday, April 22; possibly Monday, April 23).

Feel free to comment on posts (including any of the 16 stub posts for Balanced Libraries) but don’t be surprised when your post doesn’t show up until I get back.

Sorry about that. Of course, it’s equally possible that nobody would add any comments between Tuesday evening and Sunday, in which case this is a waste of typing. Fortunately, I’m a fast typist.

Win:win situations, infinite possibilities, and lemonade

Posted in Libraries, Speaking, Writing and blogging on January 12th, 2007

I’m trying to avoid uncritical me-tooism (and I’m really trying to stick to my resolve to “Take the high road”), but I do feel the need to link to very recent posts from two libloggers who I respect, frequently disagree with, and have never felt any desire to steamroll or slag. They’re semi-related posts.

Dorothea Salo talks about ‘Infinite Success’ here. I’ll particularly call attention to this paragraph (following some discussion of people who seem to feel the need to be King or Queen of the Hill, which of course means that others have to be less successful):

But what if success is—at least potentially—infinite? The entire equation changes. You have to decide which flavors of the limitless abundance you care for, and you have to sort out for yourself how much is enough. At that point, you can happily and without the least whisper of personal loss lend a hand to others who are doing the same.

While admitting that the “C” in “Walter C. Crawford” (the only time I’m likely to use my driver’s license/passport name in this blog!) does not stand for “Consistency,” I certainly agree with and try to live by this as a general rule. And I will claim that I’ve done my part to “lend a hand” at least by quoting and pointing out newish voices who have interesting things to say–even when I’m disagreeing with them. I do that mostly in Cites & Insights, to be sure, but I try to do it elsewhere as well.

It feels good. It particularly feels good when a “discovery” turns out to be a gem. And since I’ve probably had more than my share of traditional high-profile gigs (particularly for a pseudo-librarian in the library field), I’m only too happy to see (real example) Meredith F. getting a column in a magazine that dumped my own column [there's absolutely no connection], (not real example as far as I know) Joshua Neff or Steve Lawson or Sarah Houghton-Jan or Sandra Stewart or… getting a keynote at an association I’d love to speak to, or, well, you name it.

Caveat: I do not claim that I’ve ever had any role to play in making any of those named more visible or getting such gigs–well, with one exception, where I submitted a list of three outstanding people in the field for a possible keynote. They all happened to be women, the first one on the list accepted, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I’ve never been a formal mentor and probably never will be: The whole contract and formal agreement thing doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe I’ve ever been a formal “mentee.” But I’ve certainly been on both sides of informal help.

The first I-believe-publishable study that I ever did was, at the time, taken over by the head of the department as something that had to appear under that person’s name; it never reached the light of day. The second possibly-publishable piece that I did was while working for Sue (Susan K.) Martin (Ph.D.) in the UC Berkeley Library Systems Office; she nudged me to make it happen and suggested the place for it, and Sue would never, ever try to claim credit for someone else’s work. It did appear; it’s one of very few peer-reviewed articles I’ve ever done, and I believe the only post-college publication bearing the fuller form of my name. At other key stages, I’ve been nudged by people to take a chance on some activity–sometimes by people who could easily have done it themselves.

With web publishing, outlets for professional activity really are effectively “infinite.” Even without it, though, we benefit from a broader range of voices and ideas. I’ve probably seen 50 articles and 5 books in the last decade where I have two reactions: “I could have done a great job on that” and “Didn’t they do a great job on that!” When the author is a relative unknown, the second reaction is particularly pleasant. (OK, once in a while there’s a “They did an awful job on that,” and sometimes I’ll try to do a better one. Because I’m inconsistent, human, occasionally mean-spirited and all that I might even take a public swipe–ideally but not always at what they did, not at who they are.)

The second post, also from yesterday, is Charitable Reading by Meredith Farkas. She quotes (with permission) email from Joshua “Goblin” Neff, which I’m in turn going to quote as fair use:

Having spent years on web forums where people got in the pissiest, snarkiest arguments I’ve ever seen (and sometimes been a part of), I’ve picked up on one thing that I think is crucial for any kind of internet discussion: charitable reading. Read what I’ve written assuming that I mean the best possible thing, not the worst.

This is great advice. It’s also damnably difficult at times–particularly when you’re being fisked or, shall we say it, uncharitably read. Or slagged. I make no claims at all to sainthood on this account. I will cheerfully read a post or comment within the context of the writer’s past posts and comments, and for that matter their print publishing record and, if I know them, their persona. Such reading-within-context is sometimes less charitable than Neff’s optimal (but hardly inevitable) suggestion.

But it doesn’t hurt to try. Farkas’ discussion is excellent. I’ll quote one more paragraph (this one by Meredith Farkas, not a requote from Joshua Neff):

How would you like to see people? We have a choice in the way we view and react to things. I don’t think we should constantly worry about being polite and agreeing with what everyone else says by any stretch of the imagination. What’s so great about the blogosphere is the dialogue; not a monologue. But when has someone changed their mind after being attacked? Who has said “well, now that you’ve jumped down my throat, I really see your point and agree”? They may feel intimidated (especially if the blogger is a major A-lister or a well-known librarian) and raise the white flag, but chances are, you won’t change their mind. What will change their mind is a persuasive argument… a smart criticism. Jumping down someone’s throat has little benefit other than to let you vent your spleen. Is it really worth it?

And I’ll try to remember to reread this post from time to time. Maybe I’ll even use it as the springboard for a Bibs & Blather. (I’m already using some related material for a chapter in the probably-gonna-be-a-book I’m working on…)

[A total non sequitur here, gleaned from the comments on MF's post: I somehow missed this April 1 item, one of the most cleverly/fiendishly planned ones I've seen. Of course, it did create another dozen ghosts in the blogosphere, but what's a few more out of perhaps 100 million + ghost blogs?]

So there we are. For those who haven’t followed various threads, I should point out that Dorothea, Joshua, Meredith and I hardly form a mutual admiration society or echo chamber. I believe that all three of them have disagreed with things I’ve written publicly and forcefully, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done the same for all three of them. If I haven’t yet, I imagine the time will come. The Venn diagram with our four sets of professional interests and beliefs would show some overlap, to be sure, but not all that much [what is it with me and Venn diagrams lately?]. But I think I’ve been consistent in respecting the three people involved as thoughtful, literate, interesting, innovative forces within the field. If I’ve ever attacked one of them as opposed to disagreeing with what they’ve said, I apologize.

So there it is: A Friday lunchtime post that isn’t a quiz or a meme or a movie review.

Two more things:

  1. Lemonade? Well, life among libloggers has been tossing up enough lemons around lately…and if you don’t know the old saying, you can probably look it up. (My wife and I give away dozens of Meyer lemons almost every week during the season, and we’re hoping the current weather doesn’t end this year’s crop–and I’d guess Meyer lemons would make lemonade requiring very little sugar. Yes, they’re pesticide-free. No, they’re not for mailing; sorry.)
  2. A note to MFFX–Meredith Farkas’ Friend X: Come on in. Most of the time, the water’s fine.

Boutique hotel in Manhattan: Run away!

Posted in Speaking, Travel on December 3rd, 2006

That’s not fair, of course: There are doubtless wonderful hotels in Manhattan that carry the “boutique” label. But I thought a quick post might not be out of order after returning from a quick speaking trip.

I’m not naming the organization I was speaking to, because they’re not really to blame for the hotel problem and absolutely not to blame for the other problem (see below). They offered three possible hotels that were reasonably priced and not too far away from the conference venue and suggested reserving very early. I failed to reserve very early, and the other two hotels were unavailable.

First, the other situation: Be wary of SuperShuttle in Manhattan. I use it in other cities, almost always with very good success. This time, with a prepaid voucher (thanks to Orbitz’ recommendation), I arrived at the pickup point at 4:35 p.m. (SuperShuttle doesn’t actually have airport stations, at least not in JFK Terminal 9). I arrived at my hotel at…7:25 p.m. Yes, part of that was Manhattan’s grotesque rush hour; a lot more, though, was loading up the van with people going to six different places–and, as I didn’t realize until my return to the airport, almost perversely bad choices as to routing. (Going by the same buildings in the same direction two or three times didn’t give me a lot of confidence either.) When I asked at the hotel how early I should book a SuperShuttle return on Saturday (I had a prepaid voucher for that as well), in order to be sure of reaching the airport by 7. a.m., they said “4 a.m.–if they show up.” I booked a sedan, which took 25 minutes to get to JFK from the hotel. Sure, it was $50 instead of $17–but my time’s worth something.

Now, as to the hotel (and I use the term loosely): That one I will name–the Union Square Inn.

Here’s the description on their website:

Welcome to Union Square Inn, the finest affordable boutique hotel in Manhattan, New York City. Great rates, great location and great service make us the best New York boutique hotel choice.

Not merely a boutique hotel, but the “finest” and “best” New York boutique hotel!

I suppose “European-style” and “cozy” elsewhere on the site might be warning signs. Despite the claim of rooms as low as $99, the rate wasn’t that wonderful: $357 for two nights (including tax), for a room with one double bed. The rest of the site talks about first-class amenities, “modern, comfortable rooms” with private bathrooms, and even has a menu for their hip Cafe Samantha.

Here’s the reality. Cafe Samantha doesn’t exist–well, the teeny-tiny space does, but it’s only used for a “continental breakfast” (apparently coffee and one variety of sweet roll, maybe two). Maybe the Cafe did exist as a breakfast-lunch place at some point, but it doesn’t now. No big deal. There was a decent 24-hour restaurant two blocks away.
My room was on the fifth floor. There is no elevator. Not a broken elevator–no elevator. Funny how the website doesn’t mention anything that might suggest that. (Maybe “European-style”?) The room was large enough for the double bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and a chair–“cozy” is probably the right term. Modern? Well, the paint was in good shape and there were electric lights.

No closet. Only a short hanging rod (half of it over one of the bedside lamps). Yes, there was a bathroom–but if I’d been two inches taller, it would have been very difficult to use the toilet without banging my knees on the opposite wall.

As for first-class amenities–those did not include either a radio or an alarm clock (or room service, or anything indicating phone charges, or…). So, down those five flights of stairs again, ask at the front desk, they say they’ll be happy to program in a wakeup call. Which I asked for. And, the next morning, called to cancel since it hadn’t happened, at least by five or ten minutes after the hour. It was critical that I get the 5 a.m. wakeup call on Saturday, so I’d get my transportation to the airport, but they assured me that I’d get that wakeup call. Fortunately, my sleep was sufficiently affect by premonitions that I woke up before…there was no wakeup call. (Are alarm clocks that expensive, that at $180 a night they can’t afford to have them? The TV, such as it was, was hospital-style, locked to a wall mount up in the corner, so maybe that’s the case.)

I suppose the first-class amenities meant that there was soap and shampoo in the bathroom. That’s true. (No handtowels the first night, but that’s being picky.)

Again, I don’t blame the conference organizers. They probably checked the same first-level reviews that I did. Only one of those reviews mentioned the lack of elevator (and even then didn’t mention five stories). Since I know from reading user-submitted reviews elsewhere that some very negative reviews have to be discounted. (I remember sailing on Crystal Cruises once, a magnificent line with superb service, and hearing one couple starting to complain about this and that even before the ship had left the dock–I think that mostly boiled down to their Not Being Recognized as Very Important People and being treated as well as the rest of us…) If I’d read more assiduously, I would then have had a problem: there were no other available choices that suited the group’s apparently tight budget, or at least none they’d suggested.

My “speaking page” on my website includes among my requirements “lodging at the conference hotel (if there is one) or a business-class [or better] hotel,” After this trip, I may do a little rewriting to clarify what I mean by business-class (think Hilton, Marriott, Embassy Suites, Westin, Sheraton…). It’s fair to say that I assume a business-class hotel will have elevators if it’s more than two or three stories tall and will have radios or alarm clocks, maybe even closets. Heck, it’s fair to say I’d assume the same of a Motel 6. But, of course, there are no Motel 6s in Manhattan.

Would I go back to Manhattan? For the right arrangements, sure–but those arrangements would absolutely include a name-brand business-class (or better) hotel. And taxi, not shuttle, fare to and from the airport. (Which the inviting group’s paying: Again, this isn’t aimed at them.)

Speaking survey results

Posted in Libraries, Speaking on November 17th, 2006

The Liminal Librarian has posted the results of her “speaking survey.” Interesting stuff for those of us who do or did give speeches from time to time.

I come away from the survey more willing to state an expected fee if the requesting group doesn’t make an offer up front (and if the event isn’t considered part of my job, which changes the landscape considerably)–and probably more willing to question some offers. (It’s been a quiet period, but that could always change.)

Now if “Liminal” (Rachel Singer Gordon) wanted to do a little more work, what I’d love to see are banded results: That is, for a given type of presentation, the top 25% charged between X and Y with a median (not mean) of Z, and so on. Given 90 responses, and that the number who asked for any honorarium ranges from 16 to 42, I can’t imagine taking the analysis further than quartiles, and even that may be too fine.

Hey, Rachel: If you can anonymize the results, I’d be happy to do that breakdown. But it’s asking a lot for you to do more than you’ve already done.

Thanks for doing the survey. It may make the whole bargaining-to-speak process a little more transparent.

Setting a fee

Posted in Speaking on September 9th, 2006

I’ve never known how to answer the question, “How much do you charge?”–one that came up when I was more in demand as a speaker. And I’ve always been too shy to ask other people what they charge (with one or two exceptions).

Rachel Singer Gordin, the Liminal Librarian, is trying to do something about this situation. She’s doing an online survey.

I’ll be very interested in the results. So will lots of others, I suspect.

It’s a Guy Thing

Posted in Libraries, Speaking, Technology and software, Writing and blogging on August 28th, 2006

This excellent post at CavLec frames earlier discussions that I stayed away from, the nasty little article that I commented on here, and some other stuff in one long, articulate, and convincing discussion. (And throws in a recommendation for one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels as well; you won’t see me objecting to that or to the notion that Pratchett hides real issues within his hilarious books.)

What I realized in reading Dorothea Salo’s comments is that I was never really a “guy.” I grew up wrong (my parents never taught me that women were a separate and inferior species), I didn’t have a bunch of buds who exchanged dirty jokes, and in college I was in a coop with a bunch of engineers–who, actually, weren’t very strong on either dirty jokes or misogyny, at least not the ones I was acquainted with. I’m not a real social person and don’t go out with drinking buddies…and yes, I’ve been known to object to sexist humor, which hasn’t made me any more popular.

Salo (I’m trying to avoid first-naming, although I feel I know Dorothea fairly well by now) cuts men some slack by using “insidious” rather than “subtle.” Are there men in libraries who really are overgrown guys and would knowingly put women down? I think so. I’ve known some in the past, although I’d like to think I don’t know any now. Insecurity has lots of ways of coming out, and one way is always to find a whole group of people you can pretend to be superior to.

I should also point you to this post by Meredith Farkas, who finds that she has or had become less assertive as she grew up and wonders why. She raises lots of other issues; go read the post.

Then I was thinking about what I should or could do about all this. By and large, I think the answer is probably “Nothing, unless some sasquatch expresses misogyny in your presence.” But then…

Nothing may come of this, but I was approached to do a split keynote for a state library association, half of a point-counterpoint on an issue of some interest. (I’m deliberately keeping this as blind as possible because of the “nothing may come of this.”) After noting that I wasn’t as much of a “counterpoint” on this issue as might be desired, I said I’d be interested. The “point” person turned out not to be available. The person trying to organize the keynote asked whether I had other suggestions. I provided one obvious one…

…and then, an hour or so later, sent another three suggestions of people who would (I believe) all do excellent jobs as the other half of the keynote. All of them articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable on the issues (probably more so than I am). And, oh, by the way, all of them women. The topic is, to be sure, in the realm of library technology.

We’ll see what happens. And if a similar situation arises in the future, I do believe I’ll see what I can do…when and where it’s appropriate.

Frederick G. Kilgour, RIP

Posted in ALA, Libraries, Speaking on August 1st, 2006

Dr. Kilgour, founder of OCLC (among other things), died yesterday. The obituary is here (that page also has a link to a forum where people can leave their own observations).

I was barely acquainted with Dr. Kilgour (and certainly never knew him nearly well enough to dream of calling him “Fred”). I’m part of the second generation of library automation; Dr. Kilgour was part of the first generation. (I was also nowhere near at the level of importance where I’d be rubbing elbows with Dr. Kilgour under normal circumstances!)

The only significant in-person memory I have is of the LITA President’s Program at the 1993 ALA Annual Conference. I’m sure it was 1993, because I was LITA President at the time, and the program celebrated LITA’s 25th anniversary by having three former LITA presidents speak–well, actually, they were all ISAD presidents (Information Science and Automation Division), because the name change to LITA didn’t happen that far back.

The speakers:

  • Steve Salmon, the very first president, 1966-67. [Sticklers will note that this means the 25th Anniversary program was a year late. Sticklers will be correct. These things happen.]
  • Barbara E. Markuson, 1979-1980.
  • Frederick Kilgour, 1973-1975, the only LITA / ISAD president ever to serve a two-year term (as I remember, this was because the person who would have been president when Dr. Kilgour was Vice President / President-elect became the division’s Executive Director instead).

In a poignant note, the VP when Kilgour was president, and president in 1975-76, was Henriette Avram, whose death shortly before this year’s ALA Annual Conference sparked tributes at the LITA 40th Anniversary Past President’s Breakfast.

I certainly met Dr. Kilgour at that point; I’m not sure whether I’d ever met him before. Meeting him was a pleasure and an honor.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the speech. Due to medical and scheduling issues, the agreement was that speakers would only come up to the podium as they were speaking–but I was sitting on the podium, the lone occupant at a table, paying attention throughout the three speeches. And, of course, not taking notes. I do remember that Dr. Kilgour was warmly received (as were all three speakers).

The field will miss him.

Resolved, that debates are a terrible way to run programs

Posted in ALA, Libraries, Speaking on July 5th, 2006

I didn’t attend the ACRL debate on information literacy. Several of those who did have had snarky things to say about it, apparently well deserved. Here’s a follow-up to an earlier post about the session at A Wandering Eyre–not to pick on Jane, but because she writes well and garnered some interesting comments. (The debate’s been debated elsewhere…)

I did go to the LITA debate on the future of search. And left after 15 minutes…

And then recalled that I’ve turned down more than one speaking invitation for a debate format, after accepting one such invitation (one of only three speeches I’ve done that I regard as failures).

I’m less hard-nosed than some. I’ll be on a panel, as long as it’s not a cry-and-response panel, and I’ve been the speaker being responded to by a panel (and don’t much care for it, not because I don’t like disagreement but because I don’t like being required to write a speech in advance and stick with what I wrote…but that requirement is almost essential for responders to work effectively).

The more I think about it, the more I think I just don’t care for debates as content programs. As carnivals/sideshows, sure; bring on the powdered wigs and gongs to cut off the speakers at the 3-minute mark. Cheer, boo, throw vegetables: Just don’t think you’re communicating meaning or changing anyone’s mind.

Actually, for me, this should come as no surprise. I was never a football player (as anyone who’s seen me could guess), but I spent four years in the NFL–the National Forensic League, that is. That’s the high school public speaking association, a good place for geeks like me to spend weekends. I “topped out” point eligibility in debate, impromptu, and extemp, which means I did a lot of debating. And what struck me as the years went on was that NFL debate is a great way to train value-neutral lawyers: That is, you’re required to be equally effective in arguing for and against a set proposition. Crucial to doing that is not believing either side. (One year, I used the same very effective anecdote on both sides of the same issue. That was the year I realized that treating debate as anything other than a stunt was demeaning my personal ethical sense.)

Maybe it’s just me, but maybe not. Disagreement can be good. Serious discussion can, rarely, change minds: I’ve changed my mind thanks to informed discussion. But debates? I think they’re artificial, tend to force extreme positions, and are valuable only as entertainment, not when there’s something serious to be said. At least that’s been my recent experience.

[Not that anyone was planning to in any case, but I guess this serves as a warning that you shouldn't invite me to participate in a debate. I'll turn you down.]


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