A librarian’s story

I’m always fascinated to hear the stories of how successful librarians got started in the field, so I wanted to share a post I found by Char Booth over at info-mational. Apparently this article was written in response to a library school student’s request, which makes it particularly relevant for me. Be sure to follow the link to the full post – Kickstart:

Straight out of library school most of us are identical on paper, so landing a first position is the luck of the draw that can take you literally anywhere. This is precisely how I found myself a year out of library school living in a cabin in rural Ohio, chasing wild turkeys into trees and throwing logs on the fire to stay warm….

I have definitely been accused of naivete when I talk about the potential of fostering change in libraries that seem too stilted and/or stolid to roll with the punches. I hear people say my time at OU was idyllic, that their workplaces are too large, too small, too oldschool, too conservative, too entrenched, too poorly funded to allow any sort of innovation or development. Similarly, whenever people wonder why I can be so blithe, I simply tell them that my first experience as a librarian made me this way. I saw the way academic libraries can work, and by work I mean work extremely well.

If you are a recent graduate in academic libraries chances are good you will have to take a job somewhere so depressingly unlike where you want to be that it breaks your heart. Take it from me, it might be the precise thing that teaches you who you are in the library sense as well as personally.


How should national libraries archive blogs?

I came across an article today at techno-geek site Ars Technica about a new initiative by the German National Library. The Library wants to archive blogs, which is reasonable enough, but through an odd piece of legislation, it appears that they have the authority to require that bloggers deposit their writing in the archives. If bloggers don’t comply, they could face a fine of up to 10 000 euros. From Ars Technica:

The law indicates that interfering with the Deutsche Bibliothek’s activities is an administrative offense, one punishable by fines of up to €10,000. Fears apparently spread that the bloggers would be facing a stark choice: hand over all their past material in an archive-worthy form, or face a hefty fine.

I’m all for archiving blogs – it’s great that national libraries are considering online material as an important source of information. If anyone wants to archive the posts I’ve made public on this blog, they’re certainly welcome to do so! Fining bloggers for not actively submitting their material would be silly, but fortunately it doesn’t seem that this will actually happen. It’s important to be aware of the power held by institutions, but we also need to realize that no one from the German National Library has actually threatened to take advantage of this power.

Professional partnering continues

This week I spent some time with my partner from the McGill CLA Student Chapter Professional Partnering Program, Jared. He showed me around the Concordia libraries, where he works, and then we sat down and he told me a bit more about what he does. Since I’m interested in academic libraries, this was a great experience for me, especially since I’d never been to the Concordia libraries before.

I met him at the downtown library – his office is at the Loyola campus, but he comes downtown quite often for meetings. He showed me the collections and services available to students, but what interested me the most was meeting some of his colleagues. We had a great chat with one of his fellow librarians about information literacy programs in academic libraries, which really captured my attention because I’m taking an info lit class this semester and I hope to be involved in that area one day. We also bumped into Olivier Charbonneau, a Concordia librarian who is an expert in copyright law. I told him how much I’d enjoyed his talk at McGill last week, and Jared had a question for him about whether he could legally use an excerpt from a recent translation of an old play.

Then we took the shuttle bus to the Loyola campus, which is located in the much quieter Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal. Here Jared introduced me to some more librarians, and I was amused to discover that they’d seen my name before: Jared had been passing around my business card because he liked the way I’d designed it at Moo.com. We sat down in his office, and he showed me his list of responsibilities for the year. It looks like Concordia is going to be keeping him busy! Besides spending a certain number of hours each week doing reference (including some chat reference), he has a number of projects working on digital services and outreach, and he’s on a whole bunch of different committees. I never doubted that academic librarians work hard, but this really confirmed it.

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with Jared again.

Zotero lawsuit update

As I briefly mentioned earlier when writing about Zotero, Thomson Reuters, owners of EndNote, is suing George Mason University, creators of Zotero. It seems that the lawsuit is going ahead, with recent statements having been released by both parties. As reported by Disruptive Library Technology Jester:

George Mason University issued a statement this morning regarding the lawsuit filed against it by the Thomson Scientific division of Reuters. It looks like GMU intends to fight the lawsuit. It has restored the functionality that allowed Zotero to understand the EndNote® citation style file format and announced that it will not renew its site license for Zotero.

In a comment to this post, Allison noted that Thomson Reuters has issued a response:
The Scientific business of Thomson Reuters has initiated a law suit against George Mason University (GMU) because of violations of the terms and conditions of the EndNote® Desktop license agreement.

Thomson Reuters VP, Business Strategy and Development, Dave Kochalko said, “Simply put, we strongly believe that the creators of Zotero have reverse engineered our software code which enables EndNote’s bibliographic formatting capability. These format files only exist as software code; there is no content or information independent of lines of code and these files can only be interpreted by the computer. A key value of EndNote is its ability to format a bibliography within a manuscript and the format files are integral to that capability. We have talented employees who have invested many years in building this resource for the EndNote community.”


Do you have trouble keeping up with all the online content produced by your friends and the people you admire? Many people who interest me post to blogs, Flickr, Google Reader, Twitter, and more, and it can be a pain having to visit an assortment of different sites to see all of their updates. I’d been hearing about FriendFeed for a while, so last month I went ahead and created an account. FriendFeed publishes all of your friends’ updates in one convenient location and makes it easy for your friends to do the same with your content.

What I like about FriendFeed:

  • It’s easier than having to run around to different sites – sort of like using an RSS feed reader instead of visiting all your favourite blogs individually
  • It allows you to comment on all types of items and even gives you the option of quickly indicating which posts you like (you can also see which other users have “liked” the same item)
  • If you’re interested to see what a particular person has been up to lately, you can easily see all of their updates

What I don’t like about FriendFeed:

  • It can be a bit overwhelming – especially because, by default, FriendFeed includes updates from friends of friends. Even after whittling down the number of types of posts that appear, it’s still a lot, and this is especially worrying considering the following point:
  • Not many of the people I follow use it. Naturally, this is always the case with new technology (would you have bought a telephone in the days when most of your contacts didn’t yet own one?), but it means that I have to continue monitoring the individual sites to catch updates from my FriendFeedless friends.

Overall, I definitely think it’s worth a try, and if you go for it, don’t forget to add me.

Professional Partnering followup

This post is going up a bit late because I spent most of reading week in New York City (visiting, among other attractions, the gorgeous New York Public Library) and then had to scramble to catch up on assignments. At any rate, I’m pleased to announce that the Professional Partnering kick-off was a great success! Everyone I spoke to was having a terrific time and the food was delicious.

My partner is Jared Wiercinski, Digital Services / Outreach Librarian and Music & Contemporary Dance Librarian at Concordia University. Although I have no academic interest in music or dance (I do, of course, enjoy both in my spare time), his work with library technology is right up my alley. He’s offered to show me around the Concordia campuses and let me see what exactly he does, so stay tuned when that happens, a couple of weeks from now. Did I mention that he’s also a really nice guy? For more about Jared, check out his research guides for music and dance.