i had a really busy spring. it was both awesome, and exhausting. (errrr, i’m still trying to catch up. sorry if you’re still waiting to hear from me.)
i attended 10 conferences in 12 weeks. wait, WHUT? (plus, at some point in there, i want on a truly awesome west coast roadtrip with kendrak and megvmeg for 9 days. i think it was between CNI and CREPUQ, but i can’t really be sure.)
at some of these conferences i spoke at (one i did precon, gaming night, panel presentation, AND postcon), others i just got to learn about fun things, and one i was on the organizing committee.
here are the gory details:
computers in libraries – washington, dc – march 20-24 – presented
CNI spring meeting – san diego, ca – april 4-5 – learned
CREPUQ technologies mobiles – trois rivières, qc – may 6 – presented
IMLS workshop on library-based publishing – salt lake city, ut – may 11-13 – presented
canadian library association – halifax, ns – may 28-29 (lost the badge!) – presented
THATcamp prime – fairfax, va – june 3-5 – presented/learned (it’s a camp, you do both!)
curatecamp – austin, tx, june 6 – learned (HI DECLAN – remember how hot it was?)
open repositories – austin, tx – june 8-10 – learned (MORE HI DECLAN – remember bbq?)
special libraries association – philadelphia, pa – june 10-15 – organized/presented
tedXlibrarians – toronto, on – june 25 – presented
please note: before the haters come out… a number of these i covered on my own dime because i just wanted to go to them, and there’s no reason mpow has to send me to just anything i want to go to. also, dates may not be actual conference dates – for many i did precons, postcons, or had a metric tonne of meetings. and i had to say hi to declan because he got all cranky last week about not being in any of my #libday7 posts and yelled at me on the twittermachine.
i learned a lot about libraryland, awesome new services i want to try out at mpow, and how to bring the revolution. but what i want to share right now, is what i learned about conferencing.
things i now know
NEXUS PASSES ARE THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE. at YUL it means a quick security line as well as speedy customs line, both filled with people who are used to traveling so are hyper-efficient at getting through the line. (no, lady. you can’t bring a litre of moisturizer in your carry on.) if only YYZ had a NEXUS line for security if you’re connecting. seriously? grrrrr. the pass is well worth the 50$ (lasts 5 years).
having a sippy cup that seals completely, like this one, is one of the best things to travel with. coffee, water, bourbon… whatever ya got, you can take it with you. you can run out of your hotel room and rush to the first session (i am never late in the morning. nope, not never) with coffee in hand.
a sippy cup, and baby wipes. because everyone who travels is gross and covered in germs and half of them should probably be wearing hazmat suits. plus, when you forget to seal the package properly and they dry out, you can at least use’em as kleenexes.
how to pack for 3 back-to-back conferences and two weeks of travel in only a wee-bit-too-big-for-carry-on suitcase. lean towards underpacking (you can always run into an old navy and pick up a shirt after spilling tomato soup down the front of yourself – not that i ever had to do that) and two pairs of shoes max in your luggage. you can do it.
also, how to do laundry in a hotel. (many thanks to the awesome front desk staff in philly who not only gave me free soap, but gave me change when i didn’t have any, because “hon, we know you don’t want to be doing laundry while you’re staying in a hotel.”)
my passport number, by memory.
before arriving, map the nearest grocery store to the hotel. and the nearest liquor store.
if you’re in a hot place (HELLO AUSTIN) brew some coffee at night and put it in the frigo for the morning so you can still get a jolt of caffeine but not be drinking something hot in 104F weather.
that 104F = 40C. which is WAY TOO HOT to do anything other than be in a pool with a lone star in your hand. (i tried to have that be a session at curatecamp, but they didn’t go for it.) (cuz then giarlo woulda had to do a cannonball.)
mexican martinis are brutal. trust me on this one. there is no need for more than one. and after drinking them, you should never cap off the night with shots of cheap tequila.
always travel with acetaminophen and antacid. (possibly related to my previous point. you’ll never know.)
having a conference buddy is great. i didn’t have a partner-in-crime for a few this spring, and on occasion found myself thinking “stranger danger” at receptions and wanting to run back to my room to watch bad tv and eat ice cream. if there’s someone that you keep bumping into at conferences and you really gel with, do it.
whenever possible, try and do something non-conferencey to stay sane. visit friends in town, go to a museum, play hooky from a social event to just chillax.
eat fruits and veggies whenever they cross your path. when in the conferencezone it won’t happen often, so just do it. it also helps to have awesome vegan friends who take you to fantastic restos once you have eaten nothing but texas bbq for a week straight. (for the record, i was quite happy eating texas bbq for a week straight. salt lick and ruby’s. yes.)
in the “whenever you can” vein, if you’re doing back-to-back conferences, nap whenever the opportunity arises. it’s okay to skip the networking breakfast for a bit of a lie-in, and if there is really no session that floats your boat, and no colleagues you want to hang with during that time, go decompress in your room for a bit. you won’t learn anything if you’re zonked.
montréal, je t’aime. (i knew this already, but home is so good, it deserves a mention.)
*includes saturday, since i forgot to post this yesterday
FRIDAY: (aka: thanx jeebus it arrived.)
today was a big-ass chunk o’unproductive. i feel terrible. epic plans to get stuff done and… less epic was had. this happens rarely, so i’m not going to stress about it too much, but… ya. i do not like it when i can’t just GSD.
but i have awesome colleagues who a) understand that some days are just ZOMG TOO MUCH TO DO I CAN’T START DOING ANYTHING IMMA SIT IN MY OFFICE AND WONDER WHAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE TO STAY IN MY PREVIOUS JOB, and b) don’t make me feel like a douche for having days like this.
one of the things i did manage to take off my to-do list, was to get up my nellie mcclung poster (sent to me by the lovely david). the awesome ed, who is in the office beside mine, who drinks coffee on a similar schedule to mine, and who wants to make academic libraryland rock as hard as it can, made me feel all productive about getting it up.
otherwise the day amounted to a ginormous chunk of email-triaging, meeting-planning, association-thinking, and generally sorting out my office. also, another colleague brought me a thermometre to try and see just how cold my office is. after 2 hours it registered between 15 and 16 degrees (celsius. seriously americans, it’s you and liberia that are holding to the imperial system. grow a set and join metricville!) that is redonkulously cold. i was not shitting you about the wool blanket in my office.
the day ended with a GREAT talk with a professor in the library school. we are planning a bunch of presentations and publications looking at scholarly communication and digital curation from both a scholar’s and a practitioner’s experience. librarians and LIS researchers talking about the same topic in the same article? kookytalk, i know. but if you know carolyn and i, it makes total (and terrifying?) sense. (i guested in a class of hers on IRs, and it was genius. “in principle, the IR does x, y, and z. amy – how does it work in practice?” “errrr, kinda like a, b, and c.” we need more of this in LIS schools – k?)
i got home, made dinner, made chicken stock (protip: a bit of parmesan rind in the stock and it’s waaaaay richer and yummier), then sat down and sent out a bunch of emails that i should have done while at work. i also did a quick wireframe of the new scholarly communications site i’m going to build in august (which is weeks away – right?). so, see? not totally a write-off of a day!
SATURDAY: (aka: sometimes, as an academic librarian, you work on the weekend, either on a desk shift, or at home. c’est comme ça. if it needs doing, DO IT.)
got up earlier than normal so that i could devise a plan of attack for the weekend.
okay, really, i got up at the same time, but instead of listening to the CBC all morning, and reading non-libraryland things (which i truly love about my weekend mornings – connecting back to my community in ways other than through the library), i read my starred google reader posts cuz i need to either respond/bring to some colleagues/write up a pilot project proposal cuz i want to steal the idea.
11:30am-3:30pm. ma belle maman had a big birthday this week, and my brother has us over to fête her. the fête was not nearly as fête-ish as it could have been, so i have plans to continue it throughout the year. (ma, if you’re reading this, pretend you didn’t see that part. k?)
3:30-8: pick up an xbox kinect. i used to play video games. i enjoy the distraction, i enjoy the silly fun. and since i haven’t played one regularly in 15 years (WHERE MY SEGA AT, YO?) everything is different! also, libraries are doing a lot with gaming these days, and i generally feel like if people are going to mention “innovative” and my name, in the same sentence, then i need to know all the fun stuff that folks are doing out there. (also, after just boxing on the kinect for 2 hours straight… seriously? i am in love.)
get home all ready to get my “kinect adventures” on, and realize i can’t get the monitor out of standby mode, cuz i don’t have the remote. thankfully the previous owner will be home around 7:30pm so i can pick it up. all is good. game on, literally.
9-midnight: read articles, network on the friendfeed, facebook, twitter, IM, email, whuteveryagot, and setup some more of the xbox. (i forgot to buy speakers for the downright-ancient, but insanely-ginormous-and-FREE VGA monitor i was given, so setup is kinda half-assed.)
1:30am: write this thinger. will likely play kinect sports games til… 3am? mebbe 4am. too fun. also, i’m terrible at these games, but i care not at all.
THURSDAY (aka: tomorrow is friday. hang in there.)
today was one of those days where i had good intentions to get some important stuff done (mostly, i have to set up my whiteboard. i am lost without my whiteboard) but got sidetracked by other things.
part of my gig is coordinating all the digitization projects here. we do a LOT of digitization and have some pretty fancy equipment. today was all about digitization – everything from buying light bulbs to thinking about metadata for rare islamic texts. so the whiteboard, she’s still blank.
morningish: email, blogs, coffee. do some non-libraryland things too (pay ze billz, email ze cousinz). at some point i get to work. i don’t quite remember when, but i do remember listening to me, mom & morgentaler very loudly on the metro during my commute. (sorry fellow commuters.)
11am: weekly team meeting to make sure we’re all doing the things we said we would be doing before other people gave us more things to be doing. my team is awesomer than your team.
noon: meet a friend from the management library (where i worked when i was but a babybrarian… 2 years ago) for lunch. at some point during the team meeting i looked down at my cardigan and realize it’s covered with, well, schmutz. well done buckland, you can’t even be trusted to dress yourself. so i drag my friend to the mall so that i can pick up something that’s, you know, clean, to wear the rest of the day. we also get lunch at the new burger place which purports to be “smart” which i guess translates to putting brie on everything. pretty yum.
afternoonish: email, phone calls, google reader, friendfeed, twitter, facebook. discover that the sparc oa meeting in march is the same week as sxswi. get bummed. decide i’d prefer to hit sxswi because i need inspiration, not moaning IR managers. we’ll see.
2-3:30pm: individual meetings with my team to make sure everyone is doing the things they said they’d be doing before i gave them more things to be doing.
3:30pm: exchange emails with some great folks about publishing, libraries, and how we need to save the world. we also discuss beer.
4pm: i start prepping lists n’such to get my whiteboard on. in going through the piles on my desk, i discover a folder of “READ ME NAO” related to digitization best practices. (i also find the receipt for a dress that i’ve been trying to return for over a month. of course now it’s too late to return it. grrrr.) so i start reading and get swallowed up by METS and RAW and OMEKA. it’s all good. i really wish i did digitization 100% of my time. i also wish i had a pony.
5 à 7: i believe in celebrating team achievements. the digitization team has had an epic year digitizing everything from old class photos, to olympic torches, to well, lots of old and crazy texts, so we go for drinks after work to pat ourselves on the back. (oh ya, and we cracked 27,000 ETDs in eScholarship@McGill.) i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again, i work with great people.
nightish: do other things you people don’t need to know about. yell at ruebot on twitter. (i do a lot of yelling on twitter.)
(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.]
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!”
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.
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.
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.