welcome to the conferencezone

amy posted this August 5th, 2011 | filed under: conference-y, ilovemyjob, innovation, inspire me!, moi, presenting, ranting, revolution | 3 comments »

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

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”)
  4. my passport number, by memory.
  5. before arriving, map the nearest grocery store to the hotel. and the nearest liquor store.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.
  9. always travel with acetaminophen and antacid. (possibly related to my previous point. you’ll never know.)
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.)
  13. 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.
  14. montréal, je t’aime. (i knew this already, but home is so good, it deserves a mention.)

weeeeeee’re back

amy posted this July 6th, 2011 | filed under: inspire me!, moi, ranting, revolution, silliness | Tags: | no comments »

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by jambina

due to the hard knock life we took a wee bit of a break from our libpunk radio show.

but just like a bunhead and her 3x5s, WE NEVER SAY DIE.

so join us, will you? wednesday night (tonight) at 9pm EST.

awesome parody

amy posted this June 30th, 2011 | filed under: ranting, revolution | no comments »

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]

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.

this is not the future of libraries

amy posted this April 8th, 2011 | filed under: headdesk, ranting, revolution | 10 comments »

above is a screengrab from a presentation given today by the Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster. i encourage you to watch his whole talk here.
i am all for bringing in people with new skills.
i am all for gutting and redesigning our spaces to meet user needs.
and i am all for radical transformation in libraryland.
but mostly, i am for LIBRARIANS running LIBRARIES.

the revolution is coming. librarians wanted.

enough is enough

amy posted this March 8th, 2011 | filed under: headdesk, ranting | Tags: | no comments »

artist: Nina Paley

enough with restricted content.
enough with libraries renting content at ridiculously high rates.
digital rights management software doesn’t prevent piracy, and it doesn’t increase your audience. you know what increases your audience? libraries.

to read up on all this search for #hcod as a tag, check out library renewal, or call in to the libpunk radio show to join in on the ranting.

guy fawkes, meet king tutankhamun

amy posted this February 1st, 2011 | filed under: inspire me!, ranting | no comments »

i saw this image on reddit a few days ago.
i believe this.
in 2011, shutting down the ISPs in a country is the equivalent of spiking all independent media stories, prohibiting most telephone calls, and limiting the postal service.

and if you haven’t heard about psiphon, have a look. i know a lot of you are pretty techy when it comes to this stuff.

leaders, women, and why it’s okay to be awesome

amy posted this January 31st, 2011 | filed under: discovery, innovation, inspire me!, ranting | 1 comment »

last week there was a shitastic infographic making the rounds to help women determine what type of techy broad they are. my response (on ye olde twitter and facebook machines):

dear women in tech, i love you. i do not care about your hair, your purse, or who your dream man is. let’s take over the world. now.

and i meant it. we need to move forward, now.

to remedy my disgust, i recently watched Sheryl Sandberg‘s TED talk. she has three pieces of advice that i think everyone, even those of us in a “women’s profession” can benefit from.

  1. sit at the table
  2. make your partner a real partner
  3. don’t leave before you leave

i think it’s worth 15 mins of your time.

so let’s all do ourselves a favour, and just be awesome. the world can handle it.