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LibDay5: Wed: Lightening Strikes While Biking

Here’s how Wednesday of Library Day in the Life went for me:

5am – You know the routine by now.

6am-6:50 am, my morning ride on my stationary bike. I biked for 50 minutes and according to the bike’s computer I rode 15.5 miles and burned 465 calories while doing so.

The high point of my day was my bike ride. I had a good day overall, but the bike ride was the best. Why?

I was listening to the FIR interview:

FIR Interview: Update from Michael Edson, the Smithsonian’s Director of Web & New Media Strategy (30 minutes, 7/23/2010)

Mr. Edson was on the show to talk about the Smithsonian Commons project,  a very much in progress future portal for ALL Smithsonian digital materials. Not just digitized objects, but webcasts, blogs and more. You can get a feel for the concept at http://www.si.edu/commons/prototype/index.html. This site also has four five minute videos that are “use cases” of how the Commons could be used by a museum visitor, a teacher, a millennial, and a citizen scientist. I urge you to look them over.

Anyway, back to the interview. As Mr. Edson talked he spoke of the current difficulties people have with figuring out how to use Smithsonian content or whether they’re allowed to. Use permission is hard to obtain. The Smithsonian is not alone in this. I would say it’s the rule rather than the exception for most libraries, archives and museums across the country.

Mr. Edson said that the Smithsonian’s research showed that people were using the Smithsonian’s content anyway and the Smithsonian Institution wasn’t getting credit. Thus the idea of the Commons and, more importantly for me, the guiding philosophy of the Commons was born. The Commons philosophy and current direction of the Smithsonian is to work towards making their public domain and copyright-cleared digital works as easy to use as possible. This will be accomplished with Creative Commons licensing and easy linking AND embed codes to allow people to use and remix content to their hearts content. Mr. Edson called it aggregation with light curation.

As the interview went on, I kept thinking YES! This is EXACTLY where I would like to see our Division go! I WANT to see the treasures of Alaska to be easy building blocks for our teachers, students, citizens and researchers. This isn’t a total free for all. Mr. Edson was quite candid that the Smithsonian doesn’t own the copyright to many objects and so couldn’t offer EVERYTHING via Creative Commons. But there are millions of objects that can be and I wish the Smithsonian well in their efforts. I was really pumped up by the time the interview finished and it was time to get off the bike.

Sorry, that was almost a blog post of its own. On to the rest of the day:

8:30am – My calendar today, an 8:45-9:45 Information Services meeting and a 3-4:30 reference shift.

8:45am – Information Services is sort of a cross between a public and special library. They are open to the public, have public internet access terminals and space for absolutely anyone to drop in and site. But they also provide a lot of reference, literature research and document delivery to Alaska State Employees. I managed this section of the State Library from September 2007 till my current appointment in April 2010.

Today was the all section meeting for Information Services. I attended because as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m still putting in 4-6 hours a week on their reference desk. Today’s meeting focuses mostly on showing staff the latest concept drawings of our new buildings. Reaction is positive and some constructive criticism was offered.

In some ways, it’s a little odd attending these meetings because for two years I ran them. But my successor, who is also one of my best friends, has been great about making me feel welcomed without allowing me to take over.

The last part of the meeting was presented by one of the reference librarians who gives a talk on dealing with angry patrons adapted from Serving the Difficult Customer by Kitty Smith. Katie did a great job with this material and has a good handout I shared with my own staff by posting it on our wall.

10:30am – Noonish – If you’ve been reading all these posts, you know that I had a 10:30 appointment on Monday with my Integrated Library System (ILS) administrator that was canceled. As I went up to the Information Services meeting, I reschedule my meeting with my ILS administrator to 10:30am.  Despite popping over to the State Archives between meetings to deliver a signed leave slip to the Archivist who works in TIS, I am in time for our meeting.

Our topic, training me to run State Library statistical reports from our SirsiDynix Symphony system. To run the reports, I’m to use the new Java client which will eventually be standard, but right now is option. The new look surprises me:

SirsiDynix Symphony 3.3 Java client

But I’m soon paying close attention to which reports run when and which reports not to run in the middle of the day. Good to know if I don’t want to bring down the system and earn the wrath of the consortium.

I’m taking over the statistical reports because my administrator, who actually is the administrator for the whole CCL consortium, is retiring sometime this fiscal year. So she’s sensibly and thankfully sharing her knowledge with people who will need to carry on when she leaves.

Noon – 1pm – I reviewed the materials about the Smithsonian Commons and prepare an e-mail for the building/division integration management team about how this is a concept we really ought to follow. I’m still tickled the Smithsonian is doing this because they are a role model to the museum and archives worlds. Of course, they’re better funded too and this has to be considered in our planning.

I also review and answer e-mail, including one about scanning software for our Anchorage office.

1-2pm – Lunch. Pleasant but cloudy. Some friends stop by at different parts of the lunch hour which is always nice.

2-3pm – I login into our departments IT work order system and checked on tickets opened by our Division. I look for tickets that appeared to have no activity for more than seven days. There’s nothing special about seven days, I just arbitrarily picked that as a balance between not wanted to unnecessarily bug the dept IT group and not wanting our tickets to languish. Sometimes tickets aren’t really languishing. The problem’s been taken care of but the technician who fixed things forgot to close out the ticket.  Sometimes the ticket languished because the user didn’t provide enough information, or the IT group wasn’t the right place to send the request. This has happened a few times and the right piece of information or referral got things back on track.

It doesn’t normally take me an hour to do this. I aim to check the ticket system every Monday morning. But things got away from me in June and I’m only now finding my rhythm again.

3-4:30pm – My second reference shift of the week. Today was quieter than usual. I almost exclusively signed people into our public internet terminals. During this shift I also:

  • Used our staff wiki intranet to answer a coworker’s question about where to record a statistic.
  • Checked my RSS feeds, which I don’t get to do often these days. As a result I downloaded and passed along Idealware’s Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide. I like this guide because it addresses whether in addition to how. Not every web 2.0 tool is right for everybody.

4:30-5pm – Reviewed materials for Thursday morning’s integration meeting.

Disclaimer: Any opinions I express here are mine and not those of my employer. My strong feelings on any topic related to my work should not be construed as an official position of the Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Daniel! I love that you zeroed in on the aspects of the Smithsonian Commons that I care about the most – – the goal of encouraging use and re-use of Smithsonian assets and the ways that clear copyright and intellectual property policies can support that.

    Rock on! And definitely leave a comment/vote on the site if you haven’t already: http://www.si.edu/commons/prototype/comment.html

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thank you! You’re an inspiring person to listen to. I voted on the site the same day I heard the interview and shared a couple of the videos to Facebook.

    I also figured you for someone into social media monitoring. If you’re not using Google Alerts, I’d love to hear what you use. I have alerts set up for every part of my Division and forward things on that seem interesting.

    Looking forward to further developments. Help us all live the dream!

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