Archive for the ‘ALA’ Category

LITA Farewell

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I was a member of LITA, the Library and Information Technology Association, before there was a LITA–back when it was ALA’s Information Science and Automation Division (ISAD), with JOLA, the Journal of Library Automation, as its journal. I joined ISAD in 1975.

I was fairly active in the division for some time. Here’s what I find in my vita, in reverse chronological order:

LITA Publications Committee: Chair, 2008-2009.

LITA Top Technology Trends: “Trendspotter,” 1999-2005, 2007

LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Committee: chair, 1997-1998

LITA Nominations Committee: chair, 1995-1996; member, 1999-2000

LITA Vice-President/President-Elect, 1991-1992; President, 1992-1993; Past President, 1993-1994

LITA Executive Committee: member, 1990-1994

Task Force to Appoint Chair of LITA 1992 National Conference: chair, 1990

LITA Board of Directors: director-at-large, 1988-1991

Information Technology and Libraries: informal LITA Newsletter liaison to Editorial Board, 1986-1987; ex officio member of Editorial Board, 1988-1994; member, Editorial Board, 1994-1995, 1999-2002

LITA Newsletter: editor, 1985-1994

LITA/Gaylord Awards Committee: member, 1984-1985 and 1988-1989

Programmer/Analysts Discussion Group: founded, 1981; chair, 1981-1983

RTSD/LITA/RASD Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information Committee [MARBI]: RLG liaison, 1980-1987; LITA appointee to committee, 1985-1987

Technical Standards for Library Automation Committee (TESLA): Observer/participant, 1975-1978; member, 1978-1982; chair, 1980-1981

And now I’m done. In 2011, I won’t be a LITA member. It seems highly unlikely that I’ll rejoin. Chances are, I would have left by now if I wasn’t a former LITA president.

I suspect the “first straw” toward my leaving was when the LITA Board enacted a substantial dues increase, to $65, the highest divisional dues at the time, without a membership vote (every previous dues increase had involved a membership vote).

But I stayed around a little longer–even after my working status was such that LITA cost me more than ALA did.

This fall, I graduated to ALA’s special category for continuing members who were ALA members for at least 25 continuous years and no longer earn livings in librarianship. The dues are really tough to beat. That encouraged me to look at LITA again… and, well, I’m out.

Sorry, but I really don’t get much out of Information Technology and Libraries. My attempts to nudge them toward Gold OA status (one reason I agreed to be PubCom chair 2008-2010, and my failures were one reason I resigned after one year) had no impact whatsoever, as far as I can tell.

Sorry, but I’m not thrilled about the publishing program with Neal-Schuman, particularly not the ten-short-books-at-a-time-for-high-prices “set” thing going on now.

It was a good 30 years or so, and the last five weren’t all that bad. But it just doesn’t speak to me any longer.

And, given the role of technology in contemporary libraries, maybe I wasn’t entirely kidding when I noted that ALA doesn’t have a Library Electricity Association.


I am not at all suggesting that anybody else should leave LITA. If you find the programs or the publications or the interest groups or the committees or the national meeting or the journal worthwhile, by all means, make the most of them.

It’s not LITA, it’s me. I’ll miss the LITA Happy Hour (if and when I go to ALA at all, and that’s pretty clearly unlikely to be a regular 2x/year occurrence), since the overpriced drinks (LITA arranges it–it doesn’t and shouldn’t pay for it) were balanced with one of few chances to touch base with a lot of colleagues at once, but that’s the way it goes.

Strategic Future of Print Collections: My ALA Gig

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Seems like I should promote the session at ALA during which I’m speaking, since (a) it’s my only speech during ALA (and I don’t really speak all that often at ALA), (b) it’s my only speech for 2010, unless something happens…

Here’s the official description from the (30MB!) online program, modified only for correctness:

Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10:30 a.m.-Noon:

Strategic Future of Print Collections in Research Libraries


Washington Convention Center -206

Tracks: Collection Management & Technical Services; Preservation

Use of print library collections is shifting from physical circulation to digital reformatting and screen delivery. Does this shift suggest a continuing role for physical collections or does their screen delivery inherently suggest print disposal? Recent technologies of print-on-demand will be evaluated from a preservation perspective, interdependence of similar physical and digital collections discussed, and preservation service reassignment and preservation advocacy for the continuing role of print in the context of its digital delivery will be explored.

Moderator: Gary Frost, University of Iowa, Conservator; Debra Nolan, LBI The Original Hardcover Bookbinders, Executive Director

Speakers: Walt Crawford, Library Leadership Network, Editorial Directorsemi-retired writer & editor; Shannon Zachary, University of Michigan, Preservation Librarian; [Not in that description: The third speaker, Doug Nishimura, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology.]

Quick note

That’s the description. You should expect three roughly 15-minute talks and lots of time for Q&A. I’m the leadoff speaker, and promise not to lull you to sleep with Powerpoint bullet lists. My title is “Inclusionary Reading: Screen and Paper” and posits what’s now being called a “multiplatform reading future”–one in which books and booklength digital resources continue to be important, with some notes on why that might be. I’m defining “research library” very broadly.

The other two speakers are both experts. I anticipate lively talks that provide some real insights. I know there’s an absurd amount of competition Sunday 10:30-noon (as in every other prime program slots, since there are really only six or seven prime slots in the ever-shorter conference schedule); I think this one’s worth considering. (I would, wouldn’t I? But I didn’t design the program; I was asked to speak, and decided it would be an interesting topic.)

ALA and All the Link Love

Monday, June 14th, 2010

A two-parter:


I’m still very much looking for (a) sponsorship of Cites & Insights, (b) some other part-time/telecommuting situation that would yield some revenue (and give me a solid reason to keep going to ALA), (c) both.

One good time to discuss this would be during ALA Annual in Washington, D.C.

My current schedule is such that I could meet with people pretty much any time Friday from, say, noon on; any time Saturday, period (at this point); or Sunday between 2 and 5:30 or 6:00 (or possibly Sunday over dinner).

As usual, I’ll be traveling mostly without technology (except for a cell phone), so ideally, any meeting should be arranged beforehand–my email address is waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Link Love

That’s what comment spammers are trying to get, and here’s a few of today’s highlights:

  • Apparently, my site is “on the air in the radio” with posts “truly great and bookmarked.” People still bookmark individual blogs? (As for “on the air in the radio,” one can only surmise…)
  • It’s reassuring that “Coming here to this site wasn’t such a bad idea after all” (responding to my post about a possible C&I Executive Edition–the only response I’ve received to what was apparently a pointless idea)
  • Also good to know that my blog “keeps getting better and better” with “a lot more ideas and originality” than my old posts–of a couple of weeks ago–that “don’t offer as much insight.” That’s the oddly complimentary-while-insulting start to a long comment about getting ad revenue…
  • Several instances of Ye Olde Standard Spam Compliment, e.g. “Great blog post. Really looking forward to read more.” At least the four most recent occurrences were to posts that discussed something other than C&I issues and the business of the blog! There’s also “Your blog is so informative ; keep up the good work!!!!”–attached to a note on free shipping for C&I books. Well, that is pretty informative!!!! isn’t it?
  • Fortune cookie comments are always amusing, e.g., “Just write like you’re talking to your friends. And soon, they will be.” (Attached to one of the more controversial posts lately…)
  • Then there are the truly mysterious cases, e.g. “Hello, The Burden of your blog is very good to me, I hope more alternate with you this Motive.”
  • And the argumentative ones–such as one moderately long one that begins “Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard…” and continues in that apostrophe-free manner. Oddly enough, that one–while not being a slam-dunk for spam points–has a name attached that makes it abundantly clear that it’s spam.
  • I’m delighted that “Nicholas Sparks is my favorite author!”–I guess (haven’t really read Sparks)–but it’s totally irrelevant to the post it was attached to.
  • A lot of spam attached to my post about spam, perhaps not surprisingly…one or two already noted, plus “I still prefer the novel instead the film, it just not able to put everything in the 2 hours show.” and “Sorry that I found too late … :(” and “For me, as a poet, it was very interesting!”…and more, several more.

Spam. You gotta love it. It’s amazing how much of this stuff shows up on other blogs…although I suppose it’s great for comment counts.

Midwinter musings

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I don’t know that this qualifies as a Proper Report on my ALA Midwinter Meeting 2010 experiences–but it’s as close as I’m likely to provide, leaving out a bunch of stuff I didn’t remember, don’t feel any need to comment on or, in at least one case, choose not to weigh in on. Think of this as incidents and, fortunately, no real accidents…

Getting There [Thursday & Friday]

This could have been a whole lot more exciting, in all the wrong ways…

  • Booked American’s SFO-Boston redeye nonstop way back in October, because there was an excellent fare for roundtrip nonstops (just over $230). I snagged Seat 9C, which on a 757 is one of the two best coach seats (as long as you don’t mind the complete lack of view): Exit row just before First Class, aisle, 2×2 seating and loads of extra legroom. And I put in for “sticker” upgrades, thinking a redeye might have some empty space in First.
  • Took BART to the airport (for the first time–but certainly not the last). Deliberately got there very early–my wife doesn’t drive after dark if she can avoid it, and I figured a leisurely dinner and reading at the airport would be fine.
  • wouldn’t let me print a boarding pass Thursday morning, so I stopped at the checkin desk to get a boarding pass and see whether an upgrade had come through. The agent brings up the record and says, “It wouldn’t let you check in because we refunded your ticket.” What?
  • After I assured him I hadn’t done any such thing, he called someone else, they discussed the situation and said [a] the charge had definitely been reversed, but [b} I still had the reservation, and [c] since I asserted I hadn’t initiated the refund (and nobody else could have done so on my behalf-), they’d honor the price (about one-third of what I’d pay at that point) and reissue the ticket.
  • I handed him my credit card…and he handed me a receipt and a boarding pass for 9C, saying I was on the upgrade list. Had a good dinner. Read, walked around the American section…
  • Got a little worried when the arrival board showed the inbound flight from Boston delayed by almost three hours. But the departure board still showed the Boston flight as ontime. Turns out it isn’t a turnaround: an inbound Chicago flight was our ticket to Boston.
  • Boarding was scheduled for 10:30; the flight departure desk opened around 10, along with the display of upgrades and standby. As an AAdvantage Gold member, I was #21 on the upgrade list, so I wrote off the possibility of an upgrade.
  • In fact, nobody got upgrades–and the flight was 100% full (although not checked in beyond capacity; a couple of others there would have stayed an extra day and taken the payment). The Platinum/Executive Platinum boarding (after First, before mere Gold) was a horde–possibly 1/3 of the plane’s capacity! Experienced flyers said the Boston redeye is frequently that way–it’s cheaper, you get to Boston before work the next day, and it’s very popular with business travelers.
  • What this means is that the screwup on my reservation could have put me on the standby list for the flight–and the one person on that standby list didn’t get on the plane. Which would have meant spending the night in SFO or at an airport hotel and taking my chances the next day. Fortunately, AA’s people made the best of an odd situation, taking me at my word. (AA’s people are the main reason American’s still my preferred airline.)
  • Perfectly acceptable flight. Departed a few minutes late because some carry-on luggage had to be gate-checked (three rows ran out of overhead room), arrived 20 minutes early, got some middling sleep during the night. No question: row 9 gives you as much legroom as first class (and in Boston, seats 9B & 9C got off the plane before first class, ’cause they use the midplane door).
  • Got off around 7:30 a.m. and remembered the possibilities for the Westin Waterfront–namely the water taxi. Prompt and free airport shuttle to the dock, there was a taxi (covered motorboat) waiting. Neat! Ten minutes or so, $10, riding the waves over to the World Trade Center, then a short walk to the Convention Center and Westin.
  • Westin’s people had said flatly there was no way I’d be able to check in before mid-afternoon unless I paid for Thursday night. Since that was still cheaper than taking a typical daytime roundtrip flight, that’s what I did. Immediate checkin, giving me time to shower, have breakfast, get my badgeholder, and take a nap before starting the conference proper.
  • Main event Friday: LITA Happy Hour, in a bar at the Renaissance hotel roughly two blocks from the Westin. A good setup, I think–enough room, not too noisy. Only really convenient for people either coming from BCEC, the Westin or one or two other hotels, but it’s hard to site a LITA Happy Hour. Chatted with loads of folks I only see twice a year (one main reason for going to conference).

Being There [Saturday-Monday]

Went to a number of interest groups and discussion groups and that group that I’d been a panelist for, from its inception through 2005. I’m not going to comment on that particular session at all, thank you.

I found the ACRL copyright discussion group (on fair use) worthwhile.

LYRASIS’ “meet & greet” was interesting, although I didn’t stay for the whole time.

“Set Sail to Fail” was an interesting experiment and, I think, a success.

The exhibits were…the exhibits. Publishers seemed to be doing well; others seemed sort of light. The dry goods booths were odd, as usual (10 pairs of socks for $20: really not why I flew across the country, but maybe meeting some needs). Other sessions that I didn’t take notes on…

Many informal discussions, valuable as always. Not true lobbyconning–ALA’s too big & dispersed for that.

The OCLC Blog Salon was back on track (2009 was an odd year, with very large rooms and relatively fewer people)–the room was the right size, there were quite a few new people there, it was a good event.

I was running tired throughout and unwilling to pay big bucks for taxis, so I neither saw much of Boston nor ate at a fascinating range of places. The Westin’s a bit odd in having a hotel restaurant that’s closed for dinner (but the “Irish pub” was OK).

I will say the BCEC’s food court was unusually good for a convention center, at least based on my past (limited) experience–I ate lunch there three times (one burrito, two lunches at Sam Adams) and found the food good, freshly prepared and reasonably priced in each case.

Monday, the day I could have spent most time roaming Boston, was just not a good day to explore. I’d wondered whether I should have tried to change to a Monday flight–but, fortunately, didn’t. Not only would the change have been expensive, it looked as though Monday flights were pretty consistently delayed for hours on end, and I really didn’t want to get back to SFO late in the evening or in the middle of the night.

It’s rare for me to spot “the theme” at an ALA conference, particularly at Midwinter. This wasn’t an exception. Lots of people who think everybody else is exactly like them: Something you usually encounter with gurus and technophiles, along with the use of “everybody” to mean “the 10% of people I find most interesting” or, maybe, “everybody who matters.” It continues to be tiresome and annoying, particularly if your heart is in public libraries, but it’s so predictable that I start to tune it out. Lots of other people who are technologically knowledgeable and see the world as a complex place full of different kinds of people with different skills, different resources and different interests and who see lots of virtue in the kind of reality that doesn’t always involve electronics–my kind of people. I think I encountered a lot more of the latter than the former; at least I hope so.

Coming Home [Tuesday]

  • Water taxis don’t start until 7 a.m. and my flight was at 7:50, so I wanted to be there by 6, so… a “ground taxi” was the only real possibility. Fortunately, the weather early Tuesday was much better than on Monday; fast ride, reasonable fare, easy checkin–and #2 on the upgrade list. (But I had seat 9D, the other best seat…)
  • This time the upgrade came through (at least three people got upgraded in all: the third one, right behind me, said fairly loudly and delightedly, “This never happens any more!”)
  • So I rode home in seat 6F, in style, with a good hot breakfast, plenty of room–and American’s “DVD players.” They’re not DVD players, but they’re neat–individual media players with fairly large screens (maybe 9″-10″?), loaded with at least 20-25 movies, using Bose noise-cancellation headphones. The person in the next seat just plugged the Bose phones into his iPod in place of earbuds; I watched a movie (and listened to some music on my Sansa Express–the noise cancellation made onboard listening much more pleasurable).
  • All in all, a good way to get home–perhaps a 10-minute delay for deicing (it started snowing just as we were boarding, but very lightly), but we made that up on the way to SFO, arriving a bit early. BART back to Pleasanton/Dublin, home by 2 p.m.

That’s about it. No deep insights. East Coast conferences are still the better part of a day lost in travel, and it does seem a shame ALA Midwinter is so often in cold climes–but that’s an old song. (Sad that San Antonio seems to be off the list; the perfect Midwinter rotation would be San Antonio, San Diego, New Orleans and, I dunno, some other city–maybe Seattle–but that will never happen.) Got some insights and ideas (I have some marginal notes in my handwritten notes that will play into Library Leadership Network and, to a lesser extent, Cites & Insights), met some new people, renewed some old acquaintances…can’t ask for a lot more.

Midwinter miscellany

Friday, January 8th, 2010

The ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting is almost upon us. If weather doesn’t preclude it, I’ll be in Boston a bit less than a week from now (that is, next Friday, but several hours earlier than this post).

Sometimes people forget that, at its heart, the Midwinter Meeting is a meeting–or, rather, about 3,000 of them, all in one spot. It’s explicitly not a conference: There are very few exceptions to the “No Formal Programs” rule.

Some of us who’ve been around ALA too long remember when Midwinter really was little more than a set of meetings, with a relatively small cast (on the order of 2,000-3,000 people). I have early memories of Midwinter in Washington, DC, when it was held in two hotels near the zoo and when you quite literally could spend a few hours in the Sheraton’s lobby bar–at the time, a big, circular, “lobby bar” right in the middle of the lobby–and you’d see almost everybody you knew in the field. (OK, at the time, I didn’t know that many people–but then as now, Midwinter was a great place to meet new ones.)

Even then, topical discussions without planned speakers were a large part of what made Midwinter different. They still are, for all the discussion groups and for those interest groups who don’t just spend Midwinter planning Annual programs. Those discussions were and are a great way to share information and ideas (I won’t say “like an unconference,” but with much of a good unconference’s equality, participation and spontaneity).

If you’re relatively new to Midwinter, don’t be taken aback by the lack of a large formal program. That’s for summer. Midwinter’s a time to get the association’s business done (and, admittedly, a lot more of that really should take place virtually, with due respect to ALA’s sunshine laws), a place to plan for summer, a place for a more focused approach to a slightly smaller set of exhibits–and a place to renew professional acquaintances, make new ones, and share insights and ideas both in groups and in the various lobbies. Let’s hope Boston’s weather is at least tolerable…and that those who need or want to be there are able to make it.

That said, there are a few items I should perhaps repeat prior to Midwinter:

Want to get together? Let me know!

My so-called schedule is still very loose, and will probably stay that way. If you want to get together for some reason, let me know–beforehand, since I won’t have internet access during Midwinter (unless the internet room happens to be less busy than usual!)

But Still They Blog early-bird prices

You can still buy But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 for $20 PDF, $29.50 paper, from now through the end of ALA Midwinter. (If you’re wondering, the difference in my net proceeds for the two versions is enormous: $0.02–I get two cents more for the print version than for the download. So, y’know, buy whichever one suits your needs!)

By the way, I’d still need four people to indicate a possible willingness to buy an ePub version, before I go to the work of producing one. (I have no way of knowing who actually buys Lulu books, by the way.)

Cites ON a Plane 2010

This special non-issue, prepared for your traveling pleasure (or not), will be available from now until I return from ALA Midwinter. Or, better yet, buy the PDF version of But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009!

Midwinter merriment

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

As we enter the quietest time of the year (online at least, and probably in academic libraries)–that is, from now until January 4–a few minor notes.

Midwinter Ideas?

Since Midwinter is just three weeks away, I’ve started my skeletal schedule for Boston–and if any of you have suggestions, or want to get together for some reason, let me know. Here’s what I have so far:

  • Arrive Friday around 8 a.m., if all goes well.
  • Friday plans so far include only 5-7 p.m. LITA Happy Hour
  • Saturday plans open, but possibly an ACRL DG 10:30-12.
  • Sunday, open except 10:30-12 a.m. and 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Monday, entirely open so far. (Leaving early Tuesday morning.)

I’m sure things will fill in somewhat as I find out more about various IGs and DGs, but this one’s mostly just f2f time, exhibits, catching up with people… Staying at the Westin Boston Waterfront.

Suggestions welcome.

Early-bird Prices

A reminder: the reduced price for But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 ($29.50 paper, $20 download) will expire right after Midwinter.

By the way, I believe that three copies were produced with three little glitches–none of which interfered with content in any way. If you have one of those (print) copies and show it to me at Midwinter (pointing out the glitch that I didn’t already mention in the blog), I’ll be happy to autograph it and, if you’re upset about the glitches, refund $5 of your purchase price. The glitches have since been corrected.

Of course, I’m always delighted to autograph any of my books…in person, at least.

Season’s Greetings

We prefer a low-key holiday (and gave up on gifts many years ago). We’ll make the long trek to my brother’s house for Christmas lunch (well, it was a reasonably long trek–an hour or so–until we moved to Livermore; now it’s ten minutes or less, unless we decide to walk it); we’ll join a dear friend for our 32nd Anniversary lunch on New Year’s day. And that’s about it.

I hope your holidays are great, no matter how simple or elaborate.

LITA at Midwinter 2010: A Publicity Update

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

It’s exactly one month until the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston. This should be about the time that people start firming up plans for the meeting–and by now groups should certainly know what they’re going to be talking about.

So, as a loyal (for now) LITA member who might like to try a couple of new interest groups discussing interesting things, I started to draw up my schedule based on what people were doing.

A couple of years back, I grumbled about a certain lack of coherence in communications by LITA groups–too many channels (website, blog, wiki, list, segment of ALA’s website) and information either missing or too scattered, particularly for someone trying to get involved in the organization. As I recall, six weeks out, I could only find information on about half of the IGs, and that required going to four different sites.

I’m sure things have been improved by now. For one thing, there’s another big site (ALA Connect), for another, LITA officers have at various times talked about the need to fix this problem. So let’s have a looksee…


LITA has either 18 or 21 Interest Groups at the moment, depending on where you look. There are another 17 “inactive” IGs, most of them long since disappeared.


Ideally, any LITA channel should offer a way to get to a reasonably complete list of notes on what IGs plan to do–and that list should appear in one place.

Should that place be on one of the LITA channels? Maybe, maybe not.

Let’s see what I found as I explored the various likely channels:

ALA Connect

There’s not even a Midwinter 2010 page for LITA, and very little recent activity of any sort. There is, to be sure, a link to an overall Midwinter 2010 PDF schedule giving times and rooms, arranged by division.


I went here next because it’s a wiki, so anybody can edit it, so it’s an obvious candidate.

  • Only five IGs have pages at all. Another five have red links–that is, links to nonexistent pages.
  • There is a Midwinter 2010 page. It has times for meetings as requested, but hasn’t been updated to show actual rooms. The only real info is on the two Midwinter workshops. ($220 for a member or $495 for a nonmember for a workshop on writing for the web? OK.)
  • Otherwise, I was able to determine that Internet Resources is having a “business meeting” (with time and room) and that Digital Library Technologies is having “an informal meeting” (with time but not room). That leaves 16 up in the air, and some of the pages are now 18 months out of date.

LITA Website

There’s a Midwinter 2010 link to an ALA page showing the workshops, the town meeting in some detail, a happy hour (time but no place)…and that’s it, other than a link to an HTML schedule with times and rooms but no details.

Every IG has a page (except Drupal). Not one of those pages has anything about Midwinter 2010. Not one.

What’s astonishing is just how old the most recent items on these pages are, setting aside the fact that the Top Tech Trends page stops at Midwinter 2005…

  • Two IGs have minutes or notes from Annual 2009.
  • Four have minutes or notes from Midwinter 2009. That leaves 13 that are more than a year out of date:
  • Three have notes from Annual 2008.
  • Four have notes from Annual 2007.
  • Two have notes from Annual 2006, with one more from Midwinter 2006.
  • One has notes from Annual 2005, and another has as its most recent entry notes from Annual 1999.
  • One has no entries at all.


I found two posts related to Midwinter 2010: One announcing the workshops (I gotta say, it’s easy to find out how to spend even more money on LITA!) and one offering a gCal for Midwinter 2010. As far as I can tell (not being a gCal guru), that has times and rooms but no details.

No posts announcing Midwinter IG plans. Not one.


It’s crazy to expect a newcomer to search through list archives to find this stuff anyway–particularly given the search engine and the way the archives are presented.

It’s also a waste of time. I found nothing going back as far as October 2009, and a search yielded nothing at all.

ALA Website

The LITA link goes to LITA’s website (already covered). Tee Midwinter event planner seems to be useless for finding out what’s actually happening, or maybe I lacked patience to keep logging in and restarting my session…

But, if you read the Midwinter page carefully, you do find a link for the 2010 Midwinter Meeting Wiki.

And there, you hit paydirt–again, if you know where to look. When I looked at it half an hour ago, there was a red link (which means “no page” in MediaWiki) for Interest Groups, and the Division Events page was no help, with LITA having nothing in it.

Ah, but on Discussion Groups…

  • Twelve of the LITA IGs have something.
  • Two are generic, essentially descriptions of the IG. Ten are more specific.
  • Being a good guy, I created an account, created the IG page with a link to the LITA section of the DG page, and added a note and link to the LITA section of he Division Events page. So, now, you have a reasonably good shot of finding this info…if you look at the wiki. Number of links to the wiki from official LITA channels, as of this writing: Zero.

Here are the ten specific writeups, in alphabetic order, noting that BCEC is the “not Hynes” convention center:

  • Authority Control, Sunday 1:30-5:30, BCEC 105: “Updates from different groups working in areas of authority control, with time for questions and discussion. Tentatively, Library of Congress, MARBI, OCLC, RDA/MARC Taskforce will be represented.”
  • BIGWIG, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 102A: “BIGWIG will be discussing upcoming activities, including (but not limited to) the LITA Blog, Social Software Showcase, and the election of new officers. Interested in social software or the use of new technologies in Libraries? Come join the LITA BIGWIG interest group, we will be … “
  • Distance Learning, Saturday 10:30-12, BCEC 104C: “The LITA Distance Learning Interest Group will meet at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Conference in Boston to discuss current issues in distance learning and future plans for DLIG. Topics will include learning objects and tutorials, the role of distance learning in libraries today, and economic impacts on distance learning programs”
  • Electronic Resources Management, Friday 6:30-8:30 p.m., Hyatt Duxbury: “The incoming midwinter LITA ERMIG discussion meeting will cover several hot major issues on how to manage library electronic resources under the library budget challenges, including various standards development and applications, ERM system development, and new researches and studies conducted in the areas of resources management lifecycle. The speakers will include librarians, vendors and publishers. The forum will be in a discussion format. Each talk will be followed by a Q&A session”
  • Emerging Technologies, Sunday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 258C: “This meeting will include a roundtable style discussion on Emerging Technologies in Libraries and how Libraries can utilize them. This meeting will also include discussion on potential speakers for a panel of Emerging Technology Librarians planned for ALA Annual 2010 as well as consideration of potential questions to pose to the panel.”
  • Imagineering, Monday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 152: “LITA Imagineering Interest Group will meet discuss our committee charge which is “to promote imaginative forecasting and planning for future information systems and technologies by the examination and analysis of speculative themes and works.” We will also discuss doing a second program at Annual conference on the History of Science Fiction and spend time creating a handout for the program.”
  • MARC Format, Saturday 1:30-3:30, BCEC 158: “”“Changing MARC to accommodate RDA” The MARC Formats Interest Group will discuss recent, current, and pending changes to the various MARC formats in anticipation of RDA. Speakers TBA. MFIG will also discuss all changes to the various MARC formats in the past 6 months”
  • Mobile Computing, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 102B: “This will be the kickoff meeting for our interest group. We’ll discuss directions for the IG, communication, and begin to share information about mobile computing projects underway at our libraries and elsewhere.”
  • Next Generation Catalog, Sunday 10:30-12, BCEC 104A/B: “Mobile Technologies and Next Generation Catalogs. We will have presentations and discussion on two examples of the development and application of mobile interfaces to catalog systems. Topics will include mobile design strategies and techniques, challenges posed by mobile devices, and illustrated with real-world examples of mobile ILS clients. A brief IG business meeting will follow the discussion. “
  • Open Source, Sunday 4-5:30, BCEC 154: “The OSS IG will be planning its ALA 2010 preconference on migrating to open source library systems, and will reserve some meeting time for IG members and visitors to share their news about open source implementations and other items of interest. All are welcome to attend!”


On one hand, better than half of the IGs provide some useful preview somewhere–and that’s an improvement. Given two more that say they’re either just having a business meeting or an informal meeting with no planned topic, that’s two-thirds, and that’s not bad at all.

On the other…if I was a newcomer, I’d wonder why there were so many formal channels when all the information was actually on a non-LITA site. With no links from any of the LITA-specific channels. And with woefully outdated information on what appears to be the primary LITA site.

But as a Candide-type personality, I’ll applaud the fact that it is possible to find info on most of them. If you know where to look…

Actually, I’ll be more positive:

(Update a few minutes later:) LITA IG members who, presumably, added those writeups deserve credit for communicating their plans. (If it was the LITA Office that added the writeups, that’s great as well.)

The next step is to close the loop, by making sure that the LITA site and wiki both point to the appropriate conference wiki sites.

(So how does my schedule look? I’ll be there all day Friday through Monday, arriving on an early-morning redeye on Friday and leaving early Tuesday morning. Right now, my schedule’s open; this post might inform it somewhat. More on that later.)

A tiny little LITA-related post

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Tiny, as in no more than ten minutes composition & posting time…

So in FriendFeed today, I got involved in a couple of discussions–one involving the worth (or otherwise) of ALA, the other involving what professional groups make sense for a systems librarian.

I’m just going to touch on the second one, where another participant said LITA was not a good choice because it was consistently five to ten years behind the times. I questioned that, and found myself defending LITA–and particularly feeling that, given LITA’s bottom-up nature, something’s terribly wrong if it is “five to ten years behind” (which I don’t believe to be true).

But then, while working on other stuff and taking a walk and doing the weekly recycling/garbage, I thought:

“Why am I defending LITA?”

There are others, who should have been aware of that thread, who are actually active in LITA–and who should be part of LITA not being behind the times. As noted in a number of earlier posts, I’m fairly well burned out on the organization–to the point that I’ll think hard before renewing (since, given my work status, LITA costs me more than ALA does). Oh, I might still renew–as a former president, it’s hard not to–but still.

It was, to some extent, a kneejerk reaction to an attack. I still don’t (necessarily) agree with the attack, but as with some other areas, it’s really not my battle these days.

If LITA is stuck behind the times, then something’s terribly wrong with the IG process–or all the techies have flown the coop. I don’t believe the latter, but I really don’t know.

Anyway, FF friends, just a note that I probably won’t be there to defend LITA next time. It’s up to the active LITA members to do so. Or not, for that matter: I’ve been heard to say that it’s interesting that there’s no Library Electricity Association, and these days IT is just about as omnipresent in libraries as electricity…

Not dead yet, not really back yet

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I don’t usually go nine days between posts, but…
You can blame ALA Annual 2009 in Chicago for most of that. I (still) travel without technology, so no blogging from ALA–and also no keeping up with blogs, FriendFeed, etc. (but email once or twice in the hidden Internet room in the exhibits).
There’s also getting ready for Chicago… and catching up from Chicago, which is likely to take another day or two. Particularly since it’s mixed in with continued “trying to fix wifi/internet” (which may finally be fixed, by replacing both modem and router)–and dealing with people doing quotes for various household projects; you can’t be showing someone around/talking to them while you’re trying to catch up online. At least I can’t.
Status: DSL maybe better. Household project quotes (roof, solar, heating/air conditioning, a couple little things), about half done. Work: Need to write up ALA notes and get on with other stuff. Post-ALA: Haven’t even started to look at blogs, have realized it’s futile to go back too far on FriendFeed, haven’t started on notes.
One remarkable note: Even though ALA membership is down (2.6%), the annual conference was a new record high–and, indeed, the exhibits seemed more crowded at off-hours than I’m used to, and most programs I attended were well-attended. What this means about the future of P2P conferences, the “death of megaconferences,” etc.? I leave to the observer…

LITA IG plans and other failures

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

“And other failures?” Read on…

10 of 19 in Anaheim

Roughly a year ago, I kvetched about the difficulty of finding out what LITA interest groups were planning to do during ALA Annual 2008. See, I had this silly idea that LITA Interest Groups would be trying to attract new members–both people new to LITA and people new to the IG–and that publicizing their plans would be an easy way to do so. (OK, so I also remember back when we had the LITA Newsletter, when nearly all IGs would regularly note their upcoming plans…)

Last year, I was able to get “some information” on 10 of the 19 IGs–but only by going to four different places. I found none in the LITA database, two on the LITA blog, two on the LITA wiki–and eight, but only six new, on LITA-L, which as I noted is the “least likely place” to attract newbies. It’s also the most useless place if you’re actually trying to put together a conference schedule.

Nudging for Midwinter

I had four initiatives in mind as incoming LITA Publications Committee chair–some of them initatives that weren’t really “my business” (except as a LITA member of long standing). One of them was to encourage IGs to communicate…

I sent out mail. I offered to do the heavy lifting (e.g., wiki markup) if IG chairs would just send notes. And it worked, to some extent–although, at the same time, I got a certain amount of “what business is it of yours?” pushback. The LITA Wiki had actual information on ten of the 17 IGs, in one place, where it was easy to view. Not a great showing, but at least it was gathered together.

Giving up for Chicago

I didn’t try nudging again this time. The rest of my supposed initiatives were either non-starters or clear failures, and I wasn’t going to spend the energy to try to resuscitate them–and, frankly, I felt just slightly singed by the whole process.

So here we are, with people making their final schedules for Chicago.

How many IGs have information describing their plans on the equivalent single page on the LITA Wiki for Annual 2009? That’s easy: Zero. Not one.

OK, there are three–but indirectly, on the handful of IG pages, rather than directly on the ALA Conference 2009 page. Authority Control, BIGWIG and IRSIG do have info if you know where to look. It’s truly sad that only four of the IGs even have pages on the wiki with any content on them.

So let’s go to the ALA wiki for 2009 Annual, an equally reasonable place. If there are any, I can’t find them–heck, I can’t even find a page for discussion and interest groups. Call it zero.

The LITA blog? Zero. Not one.

So if you’re new to LITA or trying to gather information on topical discussions of interest at this point, LITA IGs–or at least 14 of the 17 (or 16 of the 19)–are closed books.

Now, if you’re already a LITA member and fond of the least current technology in the group, you’re on LITA-L. That would make a difference: I found six IG posts regarding ALA 2009 plans, going back to May 2009. Notably, there’s essentially no overlap–with the possible exception of BIGWIG, no IG could be bothered to put information in more than one place. That still leaves eight or ten IGs with no available information at all.

I get it

I can only come to one of two conclusions:

  1. LITA IGs really don’t want to attract new members to their groups or to LITA itself.
  2. The half hour it would take to add an item on a wiki page is just too much effort to expect of a volunteer chair of an IG. (I say “wiki page” because the blog and the LITA database both involve some additional overhead.

I tried. I failed, although the results were better for Midwinter 2009. For all I know, most LITA IGs may be falling apart anyway (how would I know? Post-conference minutes or reports in a public arena are even rarer than pre-conference plans).

Other stalled initiatives

What else did I have in mind back when I foolishly agreed to chair LITA Publications Committee?

Here’s what I sent to the LITA Publications Committee, noting that it wasn’t clear that any of them were within the purview of the committee. I listed them in what I saw as descending order of importance:

1.      Can LITA IGs (and to a lesser extent, LITA committees) do a better  job of letting the rest of us, including new members, know what they’re  going to be talking about during Midwinter and Annual? My attempts to  find out for Anaheim resulted in a pretty dismal success rate, even  scouring all four channels LITA seems to use: I think we have too many
channels and not enough content. I’ve taken my first step in this  regard: Mail to chairs asking them to do one-paragraph descriptions of  plans to at least one of the four channels (blog, wiki, list, website).  Admittedly, this is no longer part of PubComm’s responsibility because  there’s no publication (nor, at this point, should there be).

See discussion above. Maybe, maybe, if someone (the IG coordinator? staff?) made a point of bugging every IG chair at least twice, and did the work of actually assembling the results, you might, perhaps, possibly get 50-60% success. Without that bugging, we seem to be back down to little pieces widely scattered.

2.      Can we work on moving ITAL to Gold OA status–and does it make  economic or other sense for there to still be a print version? This is  really ITAL’s area, and “six-month embargo” is better than nothing, but,  well, maybe ALA divisions should be leading, not following…

I still think it’s a valid question, but there are dollars involved…at least ITAL is clean green OA.

3.      Should there be a LITA Publications Committee, or would the division  be better served by, say, a LITA Communications Committee?

Another way to put this: Are publications still core LITA activities? Given that the committee will, in Chicago, almost certainly accept the TER editor’s recommendation to formally cease publication of TER (which hasn’t actually appeared in 18 months), given the trickle of LITA monographs, given that ITAL has its own committee…well, this is for someone else to pursue. Would I serve on a LITA Communications Committee? Absolutely not.

4.      There’s a minor issue about one LITA publishing arrangement that  appears to violate LITA’s bylaws, but I suspect the bigger question  there is whether LITA publications of that sort are likely to be  significant sources of revenue or service to the field, and there I’m
treading very lightly.

I have a little more background, and am uninterested in pursuing this one…

Strike four, you’re out…

Well, I’ll call the first one a foul ball: When I was directly hounding people, I got better than half of them to respond. Take away the direct hounding…

See some of you in Chicago, as I turn the invisible gavel over to the incoming chair, one who will most assuredly do a better job than I’ve done.