humpty hump day

amy posted this July 28th, 2011 | filed under: general, ilovemyjob, inspire me!, moi | Tags: , | no comments »

(i’m pretty sure i watched greg and free karaoke this tune at IL one year, but my memory, she abandons me regularly)

WEDNESDAY: (aka: hump day. all down hill from here.)

6:45am: wake up, read email and  blogs, eat the rest of the blackberries in the fridge, showeriffic, etc etc etc

9ish: dive into some emails that have been kicking around for too long. try and find the provenance of a photo in a book the library published in the mid-90s. no photo caption, no acknowledgments, and the editor has since retired. consider purchasing padding for my desk since i keep banging my head against it.

10am: meeting at the grad and postdoctoral studies office to talk about a bunch of issues around electronic theses & dissertations. productive meetings ftw!

noon: rush back to my office for my question point/meebo shift. slooooow shift. but this gives me time to deal with more emails, setup more meetings, and inhale a sammich at my desk.

afternoon: talk to colleagues at other libraries about ETDs. water the plants in my new office (trying to revive them). contemplate unpacking all the boxes. get quotes on servers. realize i haven’t backed up my computer in months…

4pm: meeting with colleagues about an upcoming digitization project. more deets to come.

5pm: get email notifying me that the reimbursement for my travel expenses will be in my bank account by the weekend. best news of the day.

5:30pm: 5 à 7 with library school friends. wing night!

8:30pm: check in with my friends in the computer. consider killing pixellated bad guys but decide to read wired magazine (ipad edition) instead.

nightish: re-watch rip: a remix manifesto. get all ragey about the state of libraryland and wonder how we can better support remix culture. draft some notes for a post/article/rant at a conference.

midnightish: write this thinger.

[july 28, 10am: realize i didn’t publish this last night before going sleep, so… i do that.]

huh, i #libday7 ‘d again!

amy posted this July 26th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, moi | Tags: , | 1 comment »

TUESDAY: (aka: ZOMG it’s only tuesday.)

6:45am: wonder WHUT THE HELL IS THAT NOISE. realize it’s my alarm clock. say a bunch of verybadwords and hit snooze. repeatedly. (it’s an ihome and i have a remote.)

6:50am: cell phone alarm clock goes off. say more verybadwords and hit snooze. repeatedly.

[for those following along at home, alternate alarm clocks are now ringing every five minutes. dante’s 5th circle?]

8:10am: i finally get out of bed after snoozing two alarm clocks for over an hour. i heard the 8am CBC news, and listened to more about poor Jack Layton than anyone should have to before coffee. triage email while drinking some coffee.

9:15am: why on earth is my office so cold? someone walks by and mentions the “arctic blast” that seems to come out the door into the hallway (and no, they are not referring to my cold cold heart). get more coffee. prep for day of… one 7 hour meeting.

9:30am: tell people i have a 7 hour meeting. appreciate their ability to not say “SUCKA!”

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by bunchofpants

10am: start 7 hour meeting. (okay, it’s for a big digital humanities SSHRC grant that is going to be fanfuckingtastic in terms of bringing light to chinese female poets during the ming and qing dynasties. we are partnering with harvard, peking university, sun yat-sen university, and academia sinica. it is hot, yo.)
meeting is in english and chinese. i am the only person in the room that understands no chinese, but am completely mesmerized. my colleagues are lovely and translate everything for me.
tangent: i want to learn chinese.

noonish: the group goes out for awesome lunch. i take conference call for association work and eat a bagel at my desk. and not a good montreal bagel, but one of those redonkulously americanized bagel-cakes from timmy’s. (timmy’s are, according to the douchebag ford brothers in toronto, more important than libraries. dear ford brothers: consider yourselves on notice: RAMBINA DOES NOT LIKE YOU AND WILL HELP SMASH.)
i also catch up on the google reader, the twitter, the friendfeed, the facebook, the-rest-of-the-web-because-everything-has-something-to-do-with-my-job.

1:30pm: back to meeting. now we talk APIs, relational databases, making things available for mashups, and other good stuff that really gets my heart pumping. it’s awesome.

4pm: wrap up and great reception at the east asian studies department. fruit, tea, cookies, and good conversation.

5pm: fried brain, i run out of the office despite still having mounds of work. i replied to a bunch of emails throughout the day though, about:

  • hiring and training of new student staff
  • requests for funding for professional development (my request to attend a librarycamp as part of PD was accepted. precedence for unconference/camp attendance is now set. rock.)
  • plans to enter a CE for SLA 2012 on IR best practices
  • patent-filing questions from faculty
  • selection committee requests
  • contact info for our Elsevier rep (heh. heh. heh.)
  • buying another terabyte of server space for upcoming projects

6pm: try and buy an xbox kinect. realize the monitor a friend gave me, while being 42″ and free, is so old that i may want to huck it and buy a cheap tv cuz the cables n’extra stuffs to make the kinect work on that screen are pricier than the tv. also, argue with future shop dude about tech. srsly guy, don’t try and upsell me on things. i do my homework, and i know “how computers work”. *junkpunch*

nightish: tuesday nights seem to involve me hanging out with one of my best friends, who has nothing to do with libraryland, but also works for the public sector (though in a way more important gig – childcare social worker). keeps me in check (seriously, i was freaking out about… that?) and she genuinely thinks that libraryland is awesome so really wants to know what i mean when i say i have a “metadata headache”. i have awesome friends.

10:30-til i sleep: comment on libraryland blogs, read up on stuffs i should know, check in with family and friends.

(around) 11pm: write this thinger.

recently said to a non-librarylander

amy posted this July 25th, 2011 | filed under: 2.0 fun, ilovemyjob, innovation | no comments »

it’s about the content
not the container*
once folks stop caring about the physical form information takes, the better off we will be

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by sciascia

*sorry rare books colleagues. i lurve you muchly and think you do awesome work. but imma digitize that stuff and make it available to everyone asap via the intertubez, k?

mebbe i’ll actually #libday all week?

amy posted this July 25th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, moi | Tags: , | 1 comment »

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by jambina

so i always think about library day in the life, every time it comes around. bobbi is a frickin’ genius to have built this up, and i sincerely hope that current LIS students are reading a bunch of these posts closely – cuz this, this is how we roll in libraryland, and students need to know. (cuz, ZOMG I HAD NO IDEA.)

MONDAY (aka: monday needs to be killed with fire. i hate mondays.)

6:45am: drink coffee and triage email. throw some clothes in the dryer (wrinkle-release FTMFW) while in the shower. dress purdy cuz we are interviewing candidates today and i’m on the selection committee and i want them to lurve us.

8:30am: dean’s cabinet. i have no boss. rather, mpow is hiring an associate director for digital initiatives (aka my boss) so this month, i’m playing boss at planning meetings. i really enjoy being at these meetings, and am learning so much, but… okay. i loathe mornings. my first full-time job, from ages 18-24, was in the newsroom of a big newspaper, from 7pm to 2am. my best hours are 10pm to 2am. so 8:30am? TOO EARLY.

9:30am: i’m on the selection committee for a buncha gigs at mpow. this involves an interview, a presentation, and then a bunch of meetings for the candidate. it also involves a buncha meetings for the selection committee members. buncha = ZOMG. but i really do love being so involved in the process.

11:15: jobtalk. watch the preso by today’s candidate.

noon: eat the foods. catch up on the google reader.

12:30pm: book meetings for the coming few weeks. i chair a few committees and working groups, and am lead on some projects that i need to schedule meetings for. trickier than you’d think. also booked meetings with my team (both group and individual) to prep for the semester.

1pm: read over SSHRC grant we are partnering on to make sure i didn’t promise anything we can’t deliver. (phew. we’re good.) (most excellent digital humanities project which i will surely blog again soon. but in the brief, we’re gonna build up the Ming-Qing Women’s Writings site to do all kinds of awesome stuff.)

1:40pm: read Elsevier’s new batshit-crazy author contract. for the third time. continue cursing their name and praying for a decoder ring so that i can actually understand it.

2pm: watch Jack Layton’s press conference about him stepping down temporarily to fight cancer. am very saddened. also worried about what will happen if he can’t come back to lead the opposition when parliament sits again on sept. 27.

2:15pm: write back to publisher to say thanks for letting us digitize their (probably-out-of-copyright-stuff-anyway-but-they-are-in-a-european-country-and-i’m-not-a-lawyer) run of journals we have, but that yes, we will be making them available to the public, and that is a good thing. really.

2:35pm: network. (what some may call, screwaroundondeinternet. they are wrong.)

3pm: write colleague in the liberry school to talk about potential partnerships for research and publishing. so lucky to have a partner in crime at mcgill. SO LUCKY.

3:30: more selection committee. go over candidates for this gig. lots of evaluation and discussion.

5pm: monday evening drinks with colleagues. i have come to the conclusion that every monday night requires drinks or trivia night with colleagues.

8pm: home. triaging some work email. dealing with some SLA stuffs. sorting out the revolution (IT’S COMING). also finalizing plans for my california vacation in august.

8:30pm: write this thinger.


amy posted this June 29th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me! | no comments »

HEY LIBRARYLAND – let’s all start doing some amazing shit. now.


the talk i meant to give

amy posted this June 26th, 2011 | filed under: discovery, ilovemyjob, innovation, inspire me!, moi, presenting, ranting | 13 comments »

whoa. that was intense. while i’m not happy with my presentation at TEDxLibrarians, i am happy that i accepted the challenge (doing things that scare me n’all). such a learning experience. rock.
the event, however, was wonderful. many thanks to the organizers for a such a thought-provoking day. shelley and fiacre – you guys are the best.

here is the talk i meant to give.


so when thinking about this talk, i started thinking about things i do everyday
i use and evaluate new technologies – from high speed book scanners to the semantic web
i educate my community – from finding accurate authoritative information to author rights
i design new service and spaces – both in meatspace and cyberspace
and where do i do all of this?

i almost never refer to this as the place where i work. because the library is a building, and what we do, what librarians do, is more than just what can be found in a building. in fact, the very reason most of us do what we do, is because we want to bring the library to the community, and not vice versa.
when people ask where i work, i typically say…

i like this term. this is what i’m passionate about. it’s… vast. it represents all the different kinds of librarians out there – public, academic, special.
it means more than just books on shelves in buildings. it’s more than bunheads and shelvers.
it’s a community of people who believe that helping people find and do things is what makes the world a better place.
it is everyone who wants to provide access to information, because…

because access to information is a human right. i believe this. librarylanders believe this.
we see this as a driving force for what we do and why for many of us, this is a vocation, not a job. i’m not a librarian for the bling. i’m a librarian because i fundamentally believe that i can help make society a better place to live by figuring out ways to provide better access to information. so when i’m having a bad day, and stressed about budgets, and policies, and workplace shenanigans, i remember: THIS IS WHY I DO IT.

librarians as thought leaders is a killer concept.
being a librarian, i know that there are many definitions of thought leader – from business literature, HR blogs, philosophy texts, and various talks given by people held at airport hotels on a saturday morning.
but when i think of librarians as thought leaders, i think of…

believing in access to information as a human right means fighting for our communities. fighting to make sure the digital divide continues to shrink. fighting for privacy for our users. fighting against the entire concept of censorship. and lately, fighting for libraries.
so this is my call to arms. librarians are revolutionaries, and society needs us. and no i don’t mean killing all the things with fire.
true thought leaders, true revolutionaries, are willing to overthrow the system, or join it, if that’s what works best for their community.

there is a long list of things that are worth fighting for, and worrying about.
but there are also things that i am not worried about:
the end of print books
the end of libraries
students using wikipedia
google replacing librarians (my brain beats a google algorithm in any street fight. please note: i fight dirty).
there are things that we should worry about – and as librarians are uniquely placed to fight for.

the scholarly communication system needs a complete overhaul.
scholarship has moved online, publishers need to adapt and change.
librarians are uniquely positioned to help fix scholarly publishing. we support research and publishing on a daily basis. allowing publishers to then charge us ridiculous sums of money to make this research, which we helped produce, available to our communities, is ludicrous. as one of my favourite librarians recently said “we don’t owe publishers a living”.
and as a librarian if you are not supporting the open access movement, ask yourself if you really believe that access to information is a human right.

another issue that we can help fix –
access to electronic content has been taken over by large corporations who ultimately care more about the bottom line, than the community. Harry Potter is coming to the ebook format. but only available through the publisher’s website, not through the library. this despite the fact libraries have build entire reading programs for kids around Harry Potter and are, i would argue, responsible for much of the success of the series.
and there is more, there’s always more. the fight for net neutrality – that is our fight.
it’s time for a renewal, and, okay, i’m going to say it… CHANGE?

there is lots to be fixed. revolutionaries are doers, not sayers. revolutionaries don’t make provocative statements, they take radical action.
they are always looking for ways to make society better. they don’t shake their heads and say “but this is how we’ve always done it”.

challenge legacy processes.
all of them.
it’s a kickass time to be a librarian. so many opportunities to make society better. and that’s why we do this, right? we aren’t becoming millionaires. we aren’t going to rule the world (ok, maybe we will). so what are we?

we are educators (if you don’t think you are because you don’t do officially do “instruction”, just ask your friends. i guarantee you are the person that they go to with questions on a regular basis)
we are ninjas (no one sees us coming, and then POW we smackdown a school board who wants to ban a kids book about growing up in a gay family)
we are curious (that old adage about curiosity killing the cat? think about how curious librarians are. then think about librarians and cats. no killing happening there ; )
we are community-minded (you can’t have a properly informed citizenry without a library. point final.)
and we inspire each other.

this. everyday i aim for two things:
1. care about my community
2. do that well

Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive had a great post last year about leadership in libraries, and how we can’t let just those at the top determine the future for us. in it he quotes Faulkner’s “Them that’s going, get in the goddamn wagon. Them that ain’t, get out the goddamn way.”
so i guess what i’m trying to say today, is that on those days when this gig feels a bit too paper-pushy / reprimand-y / WAY TOO MANY MEETINGS ZOMG… remember: librarians are able to start revolutions, and that is a powerful thing. we can build the future of libraryland together and show the world just how awesome it is to call yourself a librarian. it’s not going to be easy, but it is right, and as crazy as it sounds, it will make the world a better place.

join me in the revolution. you won’t regret it.

“you ask for crap and I help you to find or do it”

amy posted this May 17th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, ranting | 1 comment »

i have no idea who is responsible for the censored genius blog (other than @effinglib), but this post (retweeted by the always awesome jessamyn) resonated with me.

first some background, go read seth godin’s recent post on libraries. he’s not wrong – this is how the public sees libraries. as patrick says

We’re already doing a lot of the things he says we should be doing. We just haven’t told anyone yet, and that’s our fault.

i agree. the onus is on libraryland to make folks aware of our awesome. it’s okay to be awesome, and it’s okay to tell people about it. isn’t that what we do, really? inform our communities about things they need to know about?
so when seth starts talking about printed books as the main resource at libraries all i can think is that we need to do more to help folks like seth understand what librarians do. because (back to the censored genius)

[…] a good librarian would never exclude a data format from the search results. You ask me for information on turtles and you’re getting everything I can find, and that includes printed books.

YES! librarians are going to exhaust their available resources to answer your question – so please quit talking about how we:

  • love books
  • hate wikipedia
  • are shaking in our boots about how google will put us out of a job

(for the record: meh, wrong, and my brain totally wins in a streetfight against a google algorithm.) (i fight dirty.)

<tangent>and about these resources at our disposal, can we please start working with vendors that respect libraries, see our mission as making information available to everyone, and want to help us, instead of roping us into contracts that are unsustainable and end up forcing libraries to cut services to meet subscription rates increasing at an exponential rate? (for one possible solution, check out library renewal. ya ya, i know i’m friends with a bunch of the board members, don’t hold it against them.)</tangent>

back to being a librarian and finding crap for our communities… that’s what we do. we make available the best (and the worst) of the world’s content for our users. others (like Amazon and Netflix) have copied OUR model of service. sure they have bigger budgets, and lotsa infrastructure, but they don’t actually work for the community, they work for the bottom line. but not us. or, as the censored genius puts it:

I’m the fucking librarian, motherfucker. I am not any corporation’s bitch. And if I want books in the library, we’re having books. And DVDs. And econtent. And graphic novels. And pie.

being a librarian means finding the best resource to best answer the question. sometimes that means parsing data from an experiment to help evaluate methodology. sometimes that means determining which microfiche had the obit for a certain big city mucketymuck because your user swears her grandmother dated him before the war. sometimes that means watching the credits of a dvd to figure out who was the best boy on les invasions barbares. and sometimes, that even means consulting a printed book.

let’s all work on telling our communities about what we offer and how we can help them better than google – okay? knowledge requires collaboration.

and seth? thanks for the concern, but we got this.

and we have pie.

[update: there are nsfw tshirts available. <3]

more about networks

amy posted this May 17th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, moi, silliness | 2 comments »

if you build’em right, with fun and interesting people, you can go from this:

to this:

in about 4 minutes flat.

also, @declan and @danwho tweeted that i forgot to mention how important beer is to building a network. while not essential, it certainly can help. but not lite beer, that stuff’ll just make you enemies.

when i grow up i wanna be like…

amy posted this May 17th, 2011 | filed under: ilovemyjob, inspire me!, library skül, moi | 1 comment »

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by jambina

new grads frequently ask about my career path, about how i managed to move up the food chain quicker than most, and, in some awesomely awkward instances, they actually word it as “what is the secret to your success”.
this is the secret/my career path/how i macgyvered my way up in libraryland:
i reach out to others in libraryland and ask questions all the time.
that’s it.

this pic is of krista and i on our four year “anniversary” of rooming together at CiL conferences. how did it start? four years and a few months before CiL2008 i called her and said “hey, you are doing cool stuff. when i graduate from mcgill library school i want to do similar stuff to you. also, i want to go to CiL and i see you are speaking there, any chance we can split the cost of a room?” she said yes.
for the record:
1. i do not recommend asking to bunk with someone as your first foray into meeting other librarylanders.
2. #1 could work but is likely not something you can use in a “how did you guys meet” story.
3. sorry krista, for blogging about how we met!

but i did learn to always ask. if you want to go to a conference but can’t afford it, talk to the organizers and volunteer your time in return for free registration. even if it means only getting to see one session, the time spent networking with others at the conference is well worth it.
in the same vein, if you want to learn about a project/figure out how something works, just ask. you’d be surprise how nice librarians are… mostly. ; )

since then, i have found myself a group of mentors. some i work with, most i don’t. what’s most important is that i went out and built a network for myself – a network of people that i admire, and want to be like “when i grow up”. these are librarylanders with drive, ambition, perseverance, awesome ideas, and the guts to go for it when the haters are in full-on hate mode. these people? these are the ones i turn to for advice, comfort, comiseration, or a good kick in the ass. i also will eternally have their backs, as they have mine. some of them might not even realize they are mentors to me, but they are. (and for you mentors who don’t like it… sukkit. <3 jambina.) build yourself a network. it's not hard, but you have to be fully invested. if you do, i promise it is well worth it.

i <3 larry lessig

amy posted this April 21st, 2011 | filed under: discovery, ilovemyjob, inspire me!, ranting | no comments »

for many reasons – but this is currently #1.
get comfortable and get ready to get your learn on.

The Architecture of Access to Scientific Knowledge from lessig on Vimeo.