Don’t Stop Believing: Prom @ ALA ’11. #alaprom

Prom, circa 1988, with my highschool sweetheart. I was a mere baby!

One way or another (weaseled, forced, sweet-talked), I was able to get on the pre-planning committee for a prom themed charity event to be held at ALA’s annual conference next year in New Orleans. I say pre-planning because nothing is absolutely official yet as some intelligence still needs to be done and money needs grease a few hands to see if this can be a go, but word on the street is even if it’s not 100% officially approved by the powers that be at ALA, it WILL happen one way or another.
All this excitement on the committee got me thinking about my own prom 22 (!) years ago. To your right is a picture of me at 15 with my highschool sweetheart. While we look positively innocent and damned near virginal, the smiles on our faces were a facade of sorts. We had, in fact, broken up a few weeks before prom night (which was also his birthday) with the excuse as he was going off to college, I still had a few years of high school left and he wanted to be a free man or some such crap. If I remember correctly, I cried through most of the night, early morning and for weeks after.1
While over the years I’ve attended various charity events that mimicked the prom theme, this will be the first time I’ll be able to wear my prom dress, which found its way back to me a few years ago.2 Tonight I’ll raise a few to Chuck, who took me to prom, introduced me to R.E.M., New Order and Joy Division and who also broke my heart and later would mend it back again.
While I’m raising a few tonight, tell me about your prom(s)3! Did you love it? Hate it? If you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you do anything differently? What would have made that night magical for you or if you didn’t go, what would have persuaded you to attend?

1. Despite my 15 year old melodramatics, we ended up staying in touch and dated again a decade later. But that’s another story for another time.
2. The dress was in storage at a friend’s parent’s house for nearly two decades. A few years ago, said friend was cleaning out her parent’s attic and found the dress and presented it back to me.
3. I knew people who not only went to their own proms for junior and senior years, but also their respective boyfriend/girlfriends proms.

KEEP CALM and LIBRARY ON #KCaLO

Keep Calm and Library On I recently became obsessed with the “KEEP CALM AND” campaigns popping up, parodies of the KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON British WWII campaign. After spending hours flipping through the Flickr group and Google images1, I noticed there seemed to be a KEEP CALM parody for just about everything EXCEPT for libraries.
Libraries, regardless of what type, are more in danger now then every before. The reasoning, however, as to why and what can be done would be not blog posts but websites about the topic. Several groups/websites have already begun to push this importance of saving libraries/library advocacy to the public forefront such as Agnostic, Maybe, Losing Libraries, Crave Libraries and Save LA Public Libraries. These are just a few of the dozens of grassroots people/websites bringing to the public advocacy and grassroots campaigns to better serve/protect/save libraries.
Once discovering the font (Gill Sans, amongst friends, seems to be closest2), I planned on blocking out some time later week to play around to create a library parody but then I stumbled upon the KEEP CALM-O-Matic website! Who needs to fiddle with Photoshop and fonts when the web can do it for you? Plus this just saved me ton of time on trying to make everything “just right.”
To the above is mock-up I did for “KEEP CALM AND LIBRARY ON,” which I think is a great umbrella term that, like the British during the throes of WWII, illustrates libraries and librarians will persevere. We have lasted two millennia of cutbacks, burnings, bombings, death, scandals, awful stereotypes and whatever else has been thrown our way. In short, there is nothing we can’t handle and librarians are certainly not going anywhere.
While KEEP CALM-O-Matic is fabulous since you can instantly create and purchase, via Zazzle, your KEEP CALM stuff, you cannot upload your own images (for example, I would like to swap out the crown for the ALA “Reader” logo3). And the t-shirts are not solid colors, rather, they are the image created by the KEEP CALM-O-Matic and just superimposed on the shirt, like an iron-on. I know there are loads of other super talented people out there who would totally dig this and can make this spectactular. Me? Probably not so much.
So if anyone plays around with this, let me know either via Twitter using the tag #KCaLO or in the comments below.
Keep calm and library on.

1. One of my favorites.
2. Thanks Chris!
3. Thanks to Librarian JP for the heads up on the name of that blasted logo.

Naked Librarians: ALA 10 Unplugged. #ala10 (Part I.)

I made several of these shirts in several different colors for the #ala10 conference and wore them all weekend. The QR Code does indeed work.
I made several of these shirts in several different colors for the #ala10 conference and wore them all weekend. The QR Code does indeed work.

Holy. Cats.
After much hemming & hawing, I made it to D.C. this past week for the American Library Association’s annual convention (or known in Twitterland as #ala10). Geeks, by the way, have NOTHING on the librarians ifyouknowwhatImean.
Now that the conference is over, there have been a trickle of posts coming out of the blogosphere about various libarians’ experiences with #ala10. A few worth mentioning are: I’ve been a passive fan girl of Andy Woodworth for some time now as he’s been super helpful in helping me with that murky area between the ending of my SLIS program and being thrust out to the world of librarianship with only a single arm floatie to prop me up. Andy wrote a breakdown of of the conference, specifically talking about social media advocacy. What I took away from this was, “STFU. You’ve got the tools, now USE THEM.”
P.C. Sweeney also wrote up his experiences for the PLA blog, which captured some of the spirit of the conference. While not a blog post, I DID ran into (almost literally) to one of the creators of Crave Libraries on the exhibit floor (and also scored a few cool buttons FTW!). Advocacy, awareness and grassroots-esque ideas while not heavy on the sessions list, were definitely huge topic of conversation at the dinners and social events.
A knockoff of my Moo cards that I printed at home since I forgot to order new batch before the conference. These were also a big hit at #ala10.
A knockoff of my Moo cards that I printed at home since I forgot to order new batch before the conference. These were also a big hit at #ala10.

The second thing I want to tackle before I going my observations on the conference (and because I know how wordy I am, this will be a two part post, with the first discussing the positive and the second post why ALA (and by extension, most librarians) are still huddling in the 19th century) is the plethora forwarding and retweeting of a blog post by Bobbi Newman that she wrote last year called, Why I’m over people Twittering Conferences, Meetings.
A year ago I would have been nodding my head vigorously and shaking a fist while proclaiming, “Right on, sister!” but having attended three separate conferences within the last year, I can only respectfully disagree.
Here’s why:

  • If you’re Twittering, you’re not paying attention – multitasking is a myth The problem I have with this statement is that it’s flat generalization across learning and theory styles. Statistically, I do much better cognitively if I took notes and in lieu of having a pen/paper or my netbook with me, tweeted the information for later user. I also am a much better visual learner so I need something to connect the aural with the visceral. This also doesn’t take into account those who have smart phones (and thus there is an app for that productivity if you’re sans your netbook) or those with just text only options, so texting at leas to their Twitter accounts may be the only way to keep notes.

Booksellers v. Librarians: GO!

[Ed. note: I started writing this at the end of January of 2009 but never published it for whatever mystery reason I may have had at the time. Nearly 11 months later (eep!), a lot of what is written here is still highly relevant, so I’m cleaning it up and pubbing it.]
I wish I had some witty story about a patron to give this entry more punch but the best I can come up with is the “faculty” dude who came and started yelling at me about “throwing out those kids” who were apparently disturbing his royal highness while he was working. I was, at the time of the yelling, walking over to work with another patron who needed access on the all access computer (no Internet access but allows students to install and run software for classes. Thus, “all access” is kind of moot, I suppose.). Even though I motioned that I would be with him in a second, he kept yelling across the open area about how they were bothering and disturbing him and I HAD BETTER DO SOMETHING! Right sparky, I’ll get right on that.
After helping the student get logged into the all access computer, I looked for the librarian on duty for consultation and it turned out “those kids” were two girls who were talking quietly while working on a project together in an area designed for such a thing. The open plan area is not a quiet study area and that information is posted as such all over the place. The librarian on duty spoke quietly with the girls, his royal highness kept glaring at the librarian on duty and at me and didn’t say a peep after that. It was one of those “what the fuck, becky” kind of moments.
And I’m only two weeks into my new job.
The one thing that has been stressed since my starting this program is that you need experience, experience, experience in order to make it in the real world and winning this job has been a $deity_send in that it is giving me not only real world reference experience but experience in an academic library to boot. But here’s the thing: my classes that were to prep me for this job have really had no impact on how I handle myself at the reference desk. This sentiment was also echoed by several librarians I have interviewed over the last six months who have all told me that while lib school was great for the theory and some of the application, they really didn’t feel that they learned their jobs until they were on the jobs.
This, then, becomes the catch-22: You need some experience to get an entry level position but you must obtain an entry level position in order to get the experience. Lots of libraries like to hire in-status students, which is a boon to many of us who have had no prior experience in libraries before lib school. But this goes back to the teaching moment in that how you are trained while working in the library whether as a volunteer, intern or paid employee. These experiences can and will shape how you handle your professional career thus one must also take this factor into account when one is looking for a starting library position.
One thing I have noticed is this slightly playful but not really competition between those who work in a library and those who work in bookstores. For some reason that I cannot fathom, there seems to be some sort of unspoken rivalry between booksellers and librarians, and I’ve heard more than one librarian on various message boards bitch and complain how booksellers “try” to be like librarians by providing reader’s advisory and reference services without proper training and booksellers complain that librarians try to treat bookstores like libraries or that librarians feel like they are slumming if they come and apply for a job or work in a bookstore.
This is the part I don’t get: Bookstores are out to make money and to the corporate bookstores, the bottom line is ALL about the money. Whether or not someone gets interested in reading or enriching their life based on the books they purchased means nothing to the higher ups in corporate America – it’s just about how much the customer has spent and is there a way to get them to spend more. It’s about discounts, volume and bestsellers. It’s not about education, enrichment, support or education. This is not to say the average bookseller is not a reader, I’d roughly guesstimate that about 90% of the people I worked with were huge readers who read in a variety of genres and many of us had subject specializations. We were a very well rounded crew with a broad spectrum of education and backgrounds.
And this is not also to say that every bookstore feels this way – but having worked in $corporate_bookstore and being told time and time again that I spent too much time educating the reader rather than hand-selling them crap, I speak from experience. The other big argument that often comes up in discussion is how the bookstores are attempting to be like the library system (“help desks” that imitate reference desks, library-esque setting, comfy chairs, etc) while the library system is attempting to try to be like bookstores (cafes, overhead music systems, wider range of programming). But my question is: Why spend all this time arguing about who is trying to be like the other? All this mudslinging is ridiculous as libraries and bookstores can co-exist AND live together.
It’s like watching a never ending game of Tekken and in the end, the ones left holding the “WTF?” bag are the customers/patrons who just wanted help finding a damned book.

The consequences of world domination.

Last week, to put it succinctly, was the week from hell.
I left for St. Louis to present at a conference on Wednesday, came home mid-afternoon Friday only to immediately head to the Fox Theatre with Justin to see Bob Dylan play Friday night. Saturday morning, after dropping Wednesday off at the dog boarders, we drove to Kalamazoo to see our friends Lauren and Eric get married. Sunday, after a pit stop at IKEA, we headed home where I was able to finally couch for the first time, it seemed, in weeks.
I only checked email twice on Monday. Twice! Clearly, I was tired and overworked.
Justin and I have been having a lot of conversations on what’s going to happen with me when on-campus classes are done for me in May (I’ll still be doing a few online classes for the summer session): I’ll be out of a job (the graduate program kicks students off of student assistantships after 36 credit hours and I hit 42 or 44 May 2010), Justin and I are getting married (to get health benefits – srsly), we’re moving somewhere but we’re not sure where. And then there is the honeymoon to contend with (UK? Italy? For how long?). In a short amount of time, a lot of stuff is going to be happening and I can’t plan for it because it is all dependent on whether or not I get a job offer and if so, where I’m going. And on top of that, if I don’t get a job offer, where do we move to? Justin has the luxury of telecommuting, and I know that if I can’t find a job in X time, he will support me, but I don’t want to have to do that.
It’s called having to pay $900/month in student loans, muthafucker. (“Down with your bourgeois education,” Justin says.) So then it goes back to, “What do you want to do! What do you want to do with your life!” and of course, “world domination” doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.
In all seriousness though, I stacked my interests and my work experience in the last two years to make myself as marketable as possible. I’ll have 18 months of academic librarianship under my belt, along with having presented at a conference, certification in archival work coupled with practicum experience, digital librarianship, special projects I’ve worked on with professors plus my own incredibly varied background.
I’m awesome and I know that.
One thing I keep musing on is just how far and to what extent I want to make librarianship and archival work my life — because I know me well enough to know that I will rabble rouse and want to change the world (I’ve already started that on campus here with the creation of a new student group that I did with three other students this summer), and while there are many incredibly awesome librarians and archivists out there who do similar rabble rousing things, the profession as a whole can be and is to some extent, incredibly backward and staid. As a student, looking at the work being done typically sums up one thing — that everything has to be committed to death and with that comes the death of innovation and moving forward. But as par usual, I’m digressing. As it stands, in addition to my course work and 20 hours of ref desk pimpin’, I currently am doing the following:

  • President, ASIS&T,Wayne State student chapter.
  • Vice President and co-founder, Progressive Librarians’ Guild, Wayne State student chapter.
  • Communications chair, Graduate Employees’ Organizing Committee, Wayne State.
  • Member, virtual reference committee for new technologies, Wayne State Library system.
  • Digital technologies librarian liaison, various roles/responsibilities 1.

I can see my life going in a variety of directions, and I know that I’m flexible enough with my skillset that if I don’t like how one way goes, I can totally switch it to another. The problem, however, is that I’m not quite sure if I want to be a rabble rouser anymore — my own work and interests seem to get pushed to the side because when I take on something, I like to think I give it 110% of my focus – and I know it is because of this that makes me so good at what I do.
Writing, for example, has gone to the way side. Not just missing a few days or a few weeks but it’s been since MAY since I’ve posted anything to this or my LiveJournal account, which I even barely check anymore. My other domain, biblyotheke.net is to represent my “professional portfolio” and that’s not even been tweaked with since I installed Indexhibit on it a few weeks ago.
The quandary I’m having is not only how I want to live my life, but how to live my life and make it meaningful. How do I balance a husband, a future family, a career and personal interests while giving myself Lisa-time? What type of jobs should I start looking for? Should I sell out? Consult? Write the “Great American Novel”? Do I want to work 60hrs a week and push family and personal life aside (like my mom)? And if my school involvement right now is any indicator, it can end up like that.
Because I find it incredibly difficult to say “No.”
1. I have not discussed with my freelance employers what I can and cannot post about my work for them, so for now, they remain anonymous.

Be suspicious of Women…

Be suspicious of Women. They are given to the Reading of frivolous Romances, and at all events, their presence in a Library adds little to (if it does not, indeed, detract from) that aspect of gravity, Seriousness and Learning which is its greatest Glory. You will make no error in excluding them altogether, even though by that Act it befall that you should prohibit from entering some one of those Excellent Females who are distinguished by their Wit and Learning. There is little Chance that You or I, Sir, will ever see such an One.

Taken from The Old Librarian’s Almanack. A real update coming soon, I promise.

Google/Wikipedia: Re-inventing the damned wheel.

I’ll admit that I’m a Wikipedia/Google whore — I keep joking to a friend of mine who works for Google that when I’m done with my MLIS, I’m ready to sell out.
But joking aside, I was on Wikipedia today when I saw this advertised at the top of their donation page:

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. – — Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

Yes motherfucker, it’s called a L.I.B.R.A.R.Y. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? You may have, gasp, been to one as a child? The arrogance kills me with that statement — Wikipedia, you did not infact, create the context of indexing human information for easy perusal — print encyclopaedias predate this by over a hundred years – AT LEAST. And the idea of indexing all the information of human kind AND having it available to all of human kind presumes that EVERY living human being has access to the Internet. According to this site, currently only 21% of the world’s population has access to the Internet. I’m betting and it’s just a hunch here, that there are more libraries available than Internet kiosks. Just a hunch.
I’m dropping this topic out there to be picked up later by myself — I’m also currently listening to The Google Story on my commutes, so I’m sure I”ll have more to say on this in a bit. For now, I slumber (wearing one of my Google t-shirt, of course).

Library smut

STIFTSBIBLIOTHEKST.GALLEN I found the Hot Library Smut page again recently and couldn’t resist posting an image and a link back to the source.
I’ve wanted this book for ages and now that I’m officially in MLIS school, the time seems right. Amazon.com has it on sale, currently, for 37% off and if I can hold out until “employee appreciation days” at $corporate_bookstore, I can get it for 40% off. Yes, I know, 3 whole percent but hey, when you are a starving graduate student, 3% is a a gallon of gas (roughly).
Henry Rollins, as part of his schitck, talks about leaving libraries and bookstores angrier then when he walks in. The reason? All that human knowledge accessible to him and he will never, ever be able to contain or grasp it all. He, as he is wont to do, flips off the store/library on his way out in a double barreled salute because of said frustration of not being able to obtain that knowledge. This is the reason why Hank is one of my future husbands and I kinda miss having his glare burn into me when I wake up in the morning.1
I’ve seen Hank perform his spoken word a number of times, the last time having grabbed an autographed poster of Hank, barefoot and in a tux (and of course, flipping off the world). The poster was framed and hung directly across from my bed so that literally the first thing I’d see in the morning would be Hank’s snarling face. While I’m in temporary digs, the artwork and such are in storage, hence why I miss Hank’s snarling face every time I wake up.

reviews: books: Librarians engaging in “personal intercourse.” #librarydayinthelife

0451209710 Day in the life of Lisa, the MLIS candidate:

  • 8:30: Up, walk the dogs, shower, and get ready for the day
  • 9:45: Leave and take Mumsy to the doctors
  • 10:15: Leave doctors and grab breakfast
  • 11:20: Drop Mumsy off, grab stuff for the afternoon
  • 12:00-15:00: Interview two ref librarians and then study for the remainder of the time at the downtown branch of the library
  • 15:00-15:45: Come home, walk the dogs, drop off some stuff and grab additional stuff for the evening
  • 15:45-19:20: Drive to Holland, get hair did and head back to GR to the library
  • 19:20-20:55: Study at the downtown library
  • 21:00- now: Eat dinner, walk the dogs, do Mumsy’s laundry, wax eyebrows and catch up on email/Internets stuff.
  • 00:00: Roughly – bed!

Let it be known that librarians apparently have a very dirty sense of humour. How so, one may ask? In one of the textbooks that I’m currently reading for a class, the author suggests that “librarians engage in
personal intercourse with clientèle in order to improve services.” The quotes around “personal intercourse” is included in the book and the quote is a direct quote from the text. I have gone back and re-read that sentence numerous times in the last few days because I have the maturity of a 12 year old boy and that he (the author) MUST have some idea of what he’s saying? Right? No, he doesn’t. The text continues for several more chapters in this totally dry and academic tone. Dude, C’MON!
I’ve started collecting, in a manner of speaking, books on or about librarians, regardless of their usage — whether academic, fictional or what have you. I found The Dewey Decimal System of Love the other day and after reading the description AND reading the first chapter online, I knew I had to have it. This despite the fact that almost every reviewer talked about how horribly wretched it is. But I read the first chapter and thought, “It can’t be THAT bad” and ordered it anyway.
I’m vaguely regretting the decision.
WIthin the first few pages of the chapter, our heroine Allison (“Ally” to her friends — which tends to get confusing when her goddaughter is also named Ally (after her of course) and the author refers to both as “Ally” on the same page…), is visiting her best friend and her family when the said best friends announces that Ally MUST try breastfeeding the best friend’s son. Say whowhatsit? Now, Ally (the elder) is 40 years old, hasn’t had sex in 15 years (something she repeatedly tells you, you know, in case you have forgotten from the last mention several sentences ago) and has never had children. Her best friend keeps insisting Ally MUST try it as it will form an impregnable bond. And the best friend insists that her husband has also has tried breastfeeding the kid, ergo, Ally must try too. So, the 40 year old almost but not quite a virgin does what is set up to do: Lifts her shirt and pops her breast into the kid’s mouth. Not only does this image disturb me but it also renders me to ask, WHAT THE FLYING FUCK WAS THAT ALL ABOUT? It has NOTHING to do with the book or the “plot,” so who in their right mind thought this was effing necessary to include?
Clearly, I’m disturbed enough by this image to pass it along to you.
You’re welcome.
The book, overall, is as bad as described, but it is misleading in that the first few pages offered online are not as terrible as the book suggests it is. The author, Josephine Carr, gives the heorine the stereotype of the “uptight and yet sexy librarian” complete with glasses perched on pointed nose, long tumbling auburn hair that is consistently held up in a French twist and body that is taunt but aging. (She is 40 after all.) Ally, of course, falls in love with the conductor of the local symphony and plots her way to getting into his life (without his wife’s obvious notice, of course) while engaging in “harmless” flirting with her boss, who happens to be overly gorgeous and into Ally — even though after working together for 15 years, he has yet to ask her out or etc. We all know how the book is going to end, one doesn’t have to skip to the final chapter to get to that part, but with a book called Dewey Decimal System of Love, what the hell was I expecting?
Here is to hoping that Casanova Was a Librarian, albeit an academic book, will not prove to be as disappointing. I hope.
Now Listening: Girl Talk – Give Me A Beat
Now Reading:  The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr

Those librarians, they sure do know how to party

[Maintenance note: I’ve just updated WordPress and my blog theme to the latest and greatest and am still debugging the hell out of it. Things should be back to normal in a day or two.]
Things for the last month or so have been fairly dramarific and full of chaos. I emotionally and verbally discharged all of that pent up rage and aggression over on my livejournal for a bit, realized I had to but a squelch on that behaviour right quick and locked up seven years of LiveJournal entries to friends-only. This decision was long in coming, something I’ve been debating about for years really, because I’ve been writing online for so long and so prolifically that I would constantly argue with myself (and others) that this is who I am — I’m the one who has no problems airing her business in public. So to me, shutting the world out from my thoughts, no matter how repugnant, vile or vindictive they may have been at the time, seemed just totally dishonest. It felt like I was hiding bits and pieces of myself when dammit, you should take all or nothing. I am Lisa, hear me roar.
But it wasn’t the current drama with the ex-bastard, my online temper tantrums in regards to that or the fact that every, single thing about the last seven years on livejournal nor the five years before that on modgirl.net that I’ve spent meticously documenting every facet of my life that was bothering me. My past is my past and I can never change that — but it was my future that suddenly seemed so bright and full of promise that I had to damage control everything possible to make the best me there is out to be.
I’ve spent the last several days in Detroit attending lib school orientation at Wayne State and knew, before I went, that I had to present myself as the best self possible. For years I’ve always underplayed my awsomeness in that I never really set out to achieve all the things I could achieve, rather, I just skulked along and did what I thought was best for the situation and just kept plodding along. I never really set out to want something really badly because if I didn’t get it, failure would disarm me even more. I kept myself locked up in this totally ridiculous situation that I set out to do the bare minimum as humanly possible and skate along until something found me. And while it did, it was never really enough.
It never really is.
Armed with this information, I was determined to stop repeating bad habits and was determined to own Wayne State by the time I graduate. In order to do that, the first thing I had to do was knock off the silly shell of “shyness” that I constantly covet and steeled myself to grab every possibility and opportunity as humanly possible. I was going to fuck with the eagles, dammit and learn how to fly.
My excitement was palpable when I drove into the parking lot at Wayne. I announced, giddy, that I was here for the lib school orientation and I was SOO excited to be here. The steely security guard cracked a smile and announced, “We are excited to have you here. Welcome to the University.” (You could hear the captial “U” in university.)
For the next two days, I put myself out there. I became the gregarious person that everyone who knows me knows me to be and I started making friends, contacts, networked and introduced myself all over the place. The profs enthusiasm for the program was contagious and the more they talked up the hard work and the program, the more rearing I was ready to go. It was the first institution, ever, that made me feel like I really belonged there. That I was a part of something really awesome and terrific and new. I’ve got a stack of business cards, emails and phone numbers and the like of new people who are as excited about me as I am excited about them. I can’t WAIT for school to begin in the next two weeks.
Things are changing and I’m so totally excited about the change. I’ve got a gazillion plans, natch, and I can’t wait for all of this to begin.
I’m so going to totally own Wayne when I’m done, they have no idea. 😉