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Library Day in the Life Round 6 Wrap Up

This week marked the second time I’ve participated in the Library Day in the Life project. In Round 5, I carefully took notes during the day and blogged each night.  This time around, although I still support the concept, I tweeted. Below are tweets I came up with during the week. They paint a life of meetings, reference and advising people on tech matters. That seems about right. If you have questions about anything below, ask in comments and I’ll answer if I can. Now, the tweets:

Monday, January 24, 2011

#libday6 ref shift was mostly signing patrons onto Internet and working on a few remote access problems. Monday, January 24, 2011 5:11:09 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 hour after lunch split between being showed repaired equip in micrographics and researching layer 2 broadband. Ref @ 3. Monday, January 24, 2011 2:47:38 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 also referred a realmedia access problem to my IT specialist. Monday, January 24, 2011 1:02:20 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Archives web update was easy. Posted some museum press releases and updated their Elluminate archive. Now lunch. Monday, January 24, 2011 12:59:49 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 after break – quick temp notice for archives web pages, then helping on a Digital Pipeline issue. 10:14 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck
#libday6 Spent 1.5 HR updating Museum newsletter archive. Added 16 bulletins, added dates and notes to web page. 10:12 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck
@diylibrarian which two Juneau librarians are you following? I’d like to follow any Juneau based librarians who aren’t me. #libday6 6:43 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck in reply to diylibrarian
librarianbyday If you’re taking photos for #libday6 don’t’ forget to add them to the Flickr Pool http://bit.ly/iflXCd 4:22 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck Retweeted by DanielCornwall and 2 others
#libday6 Currently reviewing feeds in Tweetdeck for iPhone while on stationary bike. 6:22 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck
#libday6 Today’s plan – updates for museum & archives for vacationing webmaster, ref shift in afternoon & some IT liaison stuff between. 6:20 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck
#libday6 I plan on tweets coming early morning, during lunch & breaks, and perhaps one or two after work, M-F 6:17 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck
#libday6 This week I’m tweeting for Library day in the Life Round 6. For background see “What Librarians Do” Alaskanlibrarian.wordpress.com 6:13 AM Jan 24th via TweetDeck

Tuesday, January 26, 2011

@cclibrarian Reminds me of when I interned at Tyndall AFB in Panama City FL. I was one of two MLS’. Proud of my ILS management. Cataloging N Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:04:27 PM via web in reply to cclibrarian
@rhonabwy See http://web.archive.org/web/20061004130037/http://www.va.gov/gilgamesh/index.htm Looks like the VA took down the original. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:02:31 PM via web in reply to rhonabwy
#libday6http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/80769365 – Avoiding Litigation Landmines. Gritty and effective. Learn how to avoid nine traps. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 7:56:42 PM via web
#libday6 Finished my class, then wound up helping a colleague on a Census question. Now on way home. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 5:12:49 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 wkshp useful so far. Emailing on breaks. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:29:29 AM via TweetDeck
@rhonabwy Did you know the VA did an animated film using giglamesh? Had to do with PTSD. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 7:44:17 AM via TweetDeck in reply to rhonabwy
@cclibrarian I like the idea of the same person doing cataloging and LibGuides. Is this innovation, short staffing or a combo? Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:28:07 AM via TweetDeck in reply to cclibrarian
mridley Reading/Admiring “It’s the ‘glass half full’ people who will define the future of libraries” @rtennat http://bit.ly/gArvS5 #libday6 Tuesday, January 25, 2011 4:45:14 AM via TweetDeck Retweeted by DanielCornwall and 1 other
@RachaelNeu @CanuckLibrarian That’s my understanding from participating in the the last round. #libday6 Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:20:14 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 today’s training is in human resources and I’m looking forward to it. As a manager it is important to keep up with correct policy. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:07:20 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 for the past two months my normal Tue has included two hours of barcoding boxes at the State Archives. Today I’m in all day trng. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:04:36 AM via TweetDeck

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#libday6 – Alaska Dispatch ran my blog post about the increasing use of Alaska’s libraries. http://tinyurl.com/4u9pvb2 Thanks Dispatch! Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:16:25 PM via web
#libday6 – On the plus side, I did get the one “drop-dead” task for the day done and the AkLA 2011 meeting was positive. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 7:01:07 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 The extra meeting had to do with Alaska’s Broadband grant RFP. I also got dealt a meeting for tomorrow morning on digital records Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:59:33 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 As you might imagine from my twitter silence, today was very busy. Got an extra meeting w/background material. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:57:36 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/57207064 – Morning mtg featured this ref interview video. Good. Interview is one edge over Google. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:06:02 AM via web
#libday6 forgot I also have an open Userful/RealAudio issue involving an online Alaskan Native phrasebook. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:45:24 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 also plan to implement some filing ideas from yesterday’s workshop. Or at least start. Maybe a little BTOP or NDSA as well. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:11:02 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 For today, section meeting, lunch meeting to plan state library conf. Hope to do some IT liaison work in between. Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:08:47 AM via TweetDeck

Thursday January 27, 2011

#libday6 There are many good and important things I could be doing this evening – meeting prep. Conf prep. PHP study. I’m ripping cds. Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:42:02 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 During ref shift helped patron print MS Works doc and answered staff questions about LinkedIn. After made progress on newsletter. Thursday, January 27, 2011 5:15:45 PM via TweetDeck
Next up ref desk from 3-4:30. Then hopefully work on newsletter from 4:30 to 5. Thursday, January 27, 2011 2:48:21 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Did lunch. Then posted Museum PR, helped a librarian w/Surveymonkey and reviewed a request to reformat some Archives pages. Thursday, January 27, 2011 2:46:27 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 both my morning meetings generated new assignments – divisionwide speaker and digital records policy. Also added Fri mtg. Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:12:22 PM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Aside from work, I also have some LIS side projects, mostly govdocs. I’m passionate about my field. Likely more about that later. Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:28:41 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Ideally, I’d also touch base with NDSA Action teams I’m working with, but I’m guessing tomorrow or next week. Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:24:23 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Today – two meetings (digital records and museum marketing) and an afternoon ref shift. Also should work on appraisal and filing. Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:21:52 AM via TweetDeck
@librarianbyday Thanks. They’ve published me before, but not in this subject area. Thursday, January 27, 2011 6:15:17 AM via TweetDeck in reply to librarianbyday

Friday, January 28, 2011
#libday6 Received and posted three fugitive documents to http://lostdocs.freegovinfo.info. I don’t get paid to do this. Docs a passion. about 15 hours ago via TweetDeck
#libday6 Ref shift was good. Arranged to show Zotero to a staffer on Monday and searched for a 1950 book. Going out w/2 work friends. about 19 hours ago via TweetDeck
#libday6 Last of today’s meeting ended early with good news about microfilm digitization. Score! Off to ref desk. about 21 hours ago via TweetDeck
#libday6 Happiness! All meetings so far have ended early with manageable action items. Had chance to ans q about Zotero and other email. about 23 hours ago via TweetDeck
#libday6 Bldg mtg ended early, which allowed me to send out newsletter and handle web question. 5 min till digital records mtg. Friday, January 28, 2011 9:56:14 AM via TweetDeck
mattrweaver Installing WAMP, Drush & Drupal on Windows 7 on Vimeo – http://icio.us/OAUY5z #libday6 Friday, January 28, 2011 6:11:49 AM via Delicious Retweeted by DanielCornwall
johnmac38 Final added entry to my blog – a cataloguing poem: http://bit.ly/ejt6NB #libday6 Friday, January 28, 2011 5:05:56 AM via web Retweeted by DanielCornwall and 1 other
lemurph Oh students, if you gossip about last night outside my door then I can hear you. Wish I had the power to un-know. #libday6 Friday, January 28, 2011 5:25:03 AM via TweetDeck Retweeted by DanielCornwall
#libday6 tonight or more likely tomorrow, I’ll have a blog post collecting my tweets and perhaps offering thoughts outside 140 chars. Friday, January 28, 2011 5:59:53 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 8:30-10 new Bldg, 10-12 digital records, 12-1, conf planning, 2-3 micrographics update, 3-4:30 Ref. Friday, January 28, 2011 5:56:19 AM via TweetDeck
#libday6 Today is meeting heavy even for me. I work 8:30-5. Aside from, I’m scheduled for a mtg or desk shift till 4:30p. Friday, January 28, 2011 5:52:28 AM via TweetDeck

One thing in the tweets I don’t usually do are the numerous web updates I did for the State Museum and State Archives.  I supervise the division webmaster and she’d usually be the one to post press releases and fix links. She was on the last part of a two week vacation last week, so I did the easy stuff and took notes on the more complicated assignments that she’ll work on when she gets back. As a manager of a section I think it is important that at least two people are trained in common tasks. No service of your institution should come to a total halt just because someone is out for more than a couple of days. You don’t have to make the person providing coverage EQUAL to the absent person. But you should have somebody who can provide basic functionality.

I did save one more tweet:

Last Official #libday6 Tweet

#libday6 Last Tweet – If you’re never passionate about your field, seek other work. You’ll be happier and so will we. about 15 hours ago via TweetDeck



Adventures in Mobile Reference Part 1

This past Friday I left the ranks of the 12 people in North America without a cell phone and got myself an iPhone 3G. Since then I’ve had three occasions to use it in informal reference transactions.  I say informal because I wasn’t doing as part of my work duties, but they were reference type questions.

1) What real life actor played Col. Danning in the Stargate SG-1 episode “Wormhole Extreme!”? – As my Facebook friends already know, this weekend I was out camping at the Mendenhall Campgrounds here in Juneau. My wife and a friend were discussing Stargate SG-1 and were trying to remember who played the fictional “Col Danning” in the episode listed above. They both thought it was a different DeLuise sibling.  I pulled out my iPhone, looked up the Wikipedia article on Dom DeLuise to get his son’s name and then jumped to filmographies of the children. This identified Michael DeLuise as the hapless Col. Danning. Not the most elegant way to solve the problem, but it worked.

2) What was Patricia Cornwell’s first book? – This came up in the car while my wife and I were driving to work this morning. My wife makes good use of reference service. Often when she asks me to look up something while we’re commuting to work, I forget to do the request later. This morning I pulled out my iPhone and after some fumbling, connected to my library’s subscription to Novelist and got Postmortem as Ms. Cornwell’s first book, written in 1990.

3) Can you find a review of …? – Tonight we were at a local store shopping for affordable yet decent headphones. We came prepared with the last Consumer Reports issue that covered headphones (Dec 2009). As often happens in a small town, our store didn’t carry the models that Consumer Reports tested. My wife picks out a set of headphones and wonders if they’re any good. Taking out my iPhone, I bring up amazon.com for some user reviews. They’re best for people with big heads, which doesn’t fit my wife. A few reviews of other headphones later and we’re walking out with a set we’re willing to try.

Were these life or death situations? No. Was it convenient to have resources, even a subscription database, available to me in the field? Yes.

I’m sure I’ll have more of these kind of incidents. From time to time I’ll write them up. If you’re a librarian reading this, I’d like to hear your experiences in using a smartphone to provide reference service, whether or not you were officially on duty.

How and Why I Became A Librarian

This post is dedicated to Virginia Jacobs, who personally asked me to contribute to the global Library Routes Project at http://libraryroutesproject.wikkii.com/wiki/Main_Page.

I enjoyed libraries as a child. It was a biweekly highlight for my mom to take me to our local public library in Pacoima, California. At the suggestion of a librarian, I placed my first (Interlibrary Loan) ILL request in my early teens — for one of the first editions of the Star Fleet Technical Manual. Usually I’d check out stacks of astronomy books.

When I was in college at UCLA in the mid to late 1980s, I was a student assistant at the University Research Library (Now Young Research Library), which we student workers called URL. I think it’s fair to say that I was completely undistinguished in my work. I worked in the circulation department and on the Graduate Reserve Service desk, so I actually didn’t see any librarians in my departments, just full time paraprofessionals. No one encouraged me to to go to library school and I thought of my experience as a job that paid the bills. I did have some fun times and I was impressed with the breadth of holdings. It seemed like nearly any curiosity could be satisfied with the materials we had available.

When I graduated with my degree in history in 1989, I made myself two promises:

  1. I would never, ever work in another library again.
  2. I would never, ever attend graduate school.

Once I left college, I did temp office work. When I’d go to job fairs, people would look at the three years I spent at URL and tell me I should be applying for library jobs. I also did a two issue stint as an assistant editor on an aerobics magazine, but I was laid off because they couldn’t afford the meager salary they paid me. I know it was meager. The publisher told me when he hired me that I had underbid everyone else.

Somehow, and I forget who suggested it to me, I started signing up with library specific temp firms.  I worked with Library Management Systems the most. While I didn’t get warm fuzzies from them, they liked me enough to find me steady work. I also owe them my first solid job out of college — acquisitions assistant at O’Melveny and Myers. I loved the library people at O’Melveny, but I wasn’t a good fit for the corporate culture. Neither were most of my library colleagues. Their library had about 70% turnover a year after I left.

It was at O’Melveny that I first embraced the idea that library work was more than just a way to pay bills. It could be interesting in its own right. This was were I met my first library mentor – Kathleen Smith. Kathleen was supportive of library staff regardless of their level or credential.

While I was at O’Melveny I met my future wife at a bus stop. We were engaged by the time I decided it was time to leave O’Melveny and she was very supportive.

My next library job was as a library assistant at Latham and Watkins in Orange County. Latham was a generous firm. I felt extremely well paid for a library assistant. I had a boss who rewarded success and punished failure with equal vigor. She demanded and usually received 110% from all of us and gave something like 130% herself. I was there for a year and a half, the longest serving of any of her previous five library assistants. Thanks to my boss, I was able to take a paralegal research class which introduced me to doing reference.

It was around this time that I decided that out of all the workplaces I had worked in since college, I’d liked libraries the best. They had the friendliest and most interesting people to work with and had varied kinds of work. Additionally, librarians could legitimately research practically anything at work. It was a license to be a generalist. I started thinking that a career in libraries would be a good thing.

I also realized that if I wanted to be more than a library assistant, I was going to have to break my second graduation promise to myself and go to grad school to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science. I also decided that I would need to leave Southern California to do it.

By this time I was married, but Louise was very supportive of a move.  I looked at various grad schools around the country. UCLA had a grad school but the thought of going back there did not appeal to me. I finally focused my attention on University of Washington in Seattle and University of Texas at Austin and wrote their grad schools for more information.

I wound up going to Austin for three reasons:

  1. Louise was from Texas and wanted to go back.
  2. UT Austin gave me a much friendlier reception than UW.
  3. It rained too much in Seattle. (Anyone who knows Juneau climate knows how hi-larious this is in retrospect.)

Although I settled on Austin, I didn’t apply right away. We figured I should work for a few years to build up savings and to qualify for in-state tuition. We wound up moving to San Antonio (80 miles from Austin), where Louise had friends and where I had landed a paraprofessional job at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) that would change my life.

That job was as a government documents processing assistant at a Federal Depository Library (FDL). In 1993 UTSA was unlike many FDLs because it did not have a unified documents department. Instead, the processing (my job) was done within Technical Services and the nominal Federal Depository Coordinator was located in the Reference department where he assisted in staffing a unified reference desk. He did not have any supervisory responsibility for me. At the time, this arrangement was unique in San Antonio.

This led to a happy result. Although I was a paraprofessional, the depository librarian sought and received permission to start bringing me to meetings of the San Antonio Document Users Group. They were a group of documents librarians who met once a month. I was invited to join them because processing issues often came up at these meetings and the UTSA depository librarian was unable to speak on these issues because he had no involvement with the processing side of things.

I loved going to the meetings and developed a liking and respect for many of the librarians there, especially Kathy Amen of St. Mary’s University. She seemed really knowledgeable and determined to make sure people knew about the rich plate of government information resources available for the asking.

In addition to the monthly document users group meetings, this was about the time I joined govdoc-l, then and now the strongest and friendliest community of documents librarians you will ever come across. According to a search of the govdoc-l archives, it looks like one of my first messages was on December 20, 1993 and asked about a shipping list. My question was answered by a docs librarian in California. Whenever I had questions about items that just didn’t seem right, govdoc-l was there for me. And although it wasn’t in my job description, I read through the many reference questions and answers that were posted through the list, along with many questions about how GPO’s new internet-based system was going to work.

In the course of my work I realized that the feds collected and published data and reports on almost every facet of life. I came to realize that nearly every US fact I read in any Almanac had been lifted from tables published by the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics or some other US Government agency. I also came to realize that outside of the govdoc-l community, few people seemed to realize this.

After a few years Louise and I thought we were ready for me to go to UT Austin. I applied and started in January 1995. My original intention was to keep working at UTSA and do classes by distance, but I accepted a Graduate Assistantship that involved contact with NASA and the GA required a full courseload. So I drove 180 miles a day 3-5 times a week, depending on the semester.

UT Austin was fabulous for me. I loved almost all of my classes, did very well academically and really, really enjoyed conversations with faculty and students. It was here where I met another major library mentor, Dr. Ruth Palmquist. She always had time to talk on practically any subject and encouraged me to go wherever my curiosity took me. One of the things that interested me bloomed into a 1995 research paper “A New Dark Age?” that explored the fragility of digital documents and looked at prospects for their preservation. It was a touch dramatic, but I wrote it around my 30th birthday, when almost everything seemed dramatic.

Despite all the driving and other complications, I think I did the right thing by doing grad school on campus. I had some really good conversations in the grad lounge over a cheap dinner while waiting for a 8-10pm class.

While I was still in grad school, I accepted a place in the US Air Force’s Palace Acquire program. Palace Acquire was intended to recruit and train civilian Air Force managers in various areas, including base libraries. The Air Force paid tuition and books for my last semester and placed me in a full time job at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio where Marion (yes, Marion) Fontish was my supervisor and another major mentor for me. Much of what I know about supervision I first learned from Mrs. Fontish. When I graduated, the Air Force promoted me and sent me to the base library at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida where I got the opportunity to automate a library that was still running on brass date plates and card catalogs. At Tyndall I also did my first and only Summer Reading Program.

Yes. A children’s reading program at an Air Force Base. At the time, base libraries were more like a combined public/academic library than a special library. The library was open to servicemembers and their dependents and we saw plenty of children at Tyndall.

The Air Force was sort of like O’Melveny and Myers in that while I mostly enjoyed the people that I worked with, I wasn’t a good fit for the corporate culture. Specifically, the culture of near monthly Command inspections that focused on the physical condition of the facility while asking few questions about circulation, reference and other core library services. So I decided it was time for a change.

And what a change it was. In late summer 1998 I applied for a reference librarian position with the Alaska State Library. I was brought up for four days to interview in September 1998 and I instantly fell in love with the city of Juneau. I wrote my thank you letter on the way back to Florida and it wound up crossing with their job offer letter. On November 16, 1998 Louise and I were in a Juneau B&B with our three cats.

The training at the State Library was good and I couldn’t ask for better colleagues. I answered questions from the effects of hovercraft on salmon (not much research out there) to retrieving poems by Robert Service to building bibliographies on energy conservation. I was pretty happy in my position.

But then the long-time government documents and technical services librarian left right around my first anniversary with the library. I thought long and hard about whether to apply. The job involved the supervision of five people and I had replaced my promise “Not to work in a library” with “Never be a supervisor.” But I still remembered how I thought documents were cool back in San Antonio. In addition, the government documents position at the Alaska State Library oversaw the Alaska State Publications Program which collected, described, and preserved state publications regardless of format. It was a tangible opportunity to make a difference because if the job was done well, Alaska government would be documented effectively and if not, a good part of state history would be at risk. So I applied. Somewhat to my surprise I was offered the position despite having just finished probation in the position I was originally hired for.

I stayed in documents/tech services for the next seven years. I learned to supervise and I think I’m reasonably competent at it. Federal and state documents were still my love though. I continued reading and contributing to govdoc-l and that led to my becoming involved with the Free Government Information advocacy group. I gave sessions on government information resources whenever I could and also continued to do reference, bibliographies and more.

In 2007, the head of my section (the successor to the one who hired me) retired. I really, really liked my job in government documents/tech services. But I was also aware that despite my best efforts, government information wasn’t well understood or as appreciated as much as it could be. I also felt that there were ways we could be promoting our (non-docs) services and collections that we were not and had been resisted by previous section management. I came to feel that I had a good blend of skills in technology, supervision and marketing/promotion that would be good for the section. Additionally I could ensure that the state and federal depository programs would get the support I thought they deserved. I applied for the position and my upper management agreed. I became Head of Information Services in September 2007. It’s easiest to think of the position as equivalent to a branch manager. I’ve mostly enjoyed the position ever since, although I do sometimes yearn to be in a non-supervisory trainer role because I love sharing information and resources with people.

That’s my librarian story.

Reference Renaissance: “Okay This is Just Too Weird”

“Okay This is Just Too Weird”: Identifying Outreach Opportunities in Facebook by David Bietila and Elizabeth Edwards of George Washington University (GWU) was the third session that I attended at the 2008 Reference Renaissance.

This was a fun session to be in. And as someone who dabbles in social networking sites both personally and professionally, quite interesting. The session had a definite effect on my planned future friending behavior.

David and Elizabeth switched repeatedly during the presentation, so I’m not going to separate out their contributions like I’ve done with other speakers.

They did a study with the help of an anthropology student shortly after the GWU libraries had just completed a “friend a librarian” publicity campaign. About half of GWU librarians had Facebook profiles and students were aware that librarians were avaiable to be friended. But no students had friended any of the GWU librarians by the end of the publicity campaign. This study looked for the reasons for this result, among other purposes.

The study consisted of a survey, plus some ethnographic observations and interviews. Librarian profiles were also studied. While presenting survey results, David and Elizabeth compared their findings to a literature review they did. I omitted the references to the Facebook literature because 1) I trust you’re keeping up with it and 2) this will be included in the proceedings and I’m not a transcript service.

How GWU students used Facebook

David and Elizabeth reported:

  • Majority of GWU students use Facebook more than once a day.
  • Strong majority of students use Facebook to maintain existing relationships. That is, they “friend” people they’ve met in real life and don’t mine Facebook for new “friends.”
  • Students use Facebook for academic purposes including – communicating about assignments (68%); arrange study groups (61%); and communicate about academic interests (47%).

Despite using Facebook for academic purposes, most students also use Facebook for “study breaks” and self-report that Facebook negatively affects their studies.

For contacting the library, students prefer to e-mail or IM to using Facebook. In response to a question from me, Elizabeth thought this result might change now that Facebook has integrated chat.

What GWU Students Think About Librarians on Facebook

According to surveys and interview data:

  • 32% of students said they were NOT interested in seeing librarian profiles.
  • 60% of students wanted to see study suggestions on librarian FB profiles
  • 55.7% of students were interested in tips on accessing library resources
  • 26% of students were interested in personal information about librarians at their school

In general, students felt varying degrees of discomfort about librarians friending them without being asked. In interviews, none of the students cared for the ideas. But they were ok with the concept of adding librarians as Facebook friends IF there was some sort of face-to-face or IM/e-mail encounter first.

There is more to the study than is in my notes. Be sure to check the conference site (see below) for presentation slides when they come out. There were some interesting comparisons between librarians, parents and faculties in terms of how much students want to see them on Facebook.

David and Elizabeth concluded by saying that their library still saw value in having a Facebook presence for the library. Based on the student study, they offered some recommendations, which they cautioned should be taken with a grain of salt:

  1. Create a fan page for the library for patrons to link to. This seems more comfortable to students than directly friending librarians. They offered the Gelman Library fan page as an example. A stroll through their 87 fans shows some current GWU students and several alumni, so this approach seems to workfor them.
  2. In librarian profiles, keep a personal/professional balance. No personal is viewed as too cold, too much personal is seen as odd. It’s important to include a picture and the librarian’s subject expertise. Having one of Facebook’s book recommendation applications is a good idea since it ties into the traditional library brand.
  3. Let others friend you. Try to make connections in RL to encourage students/patrons to friend you.
  4. Put a few, library-related applications onto your fan page. Gelman offers a meebo chat ref app and an Open WorldCat search.

Elizabeth and David said the grain of salt was necessary because your patron base might be different and these recommendations might get out of date in the next year or two as Facebook and other social networking sites change.

In the course of building their Facebook fan page, they found a few preexisting groups for the Gelman Library. These proved useful recruiting grounds for their study, but surprised them. I looked for my library, but found no groups or fan pages. How about you?

What I took home from this presentation was 1) I will not friend my patrons unless I’ve had some prior interaction with them and even then will probably wait for them to friend me; 2) might seek permission to create a library fan page before someone beats us to the punch; and 3) update my govdocs related groups and fan pages in the next few weeks.


Note: By August 20, 2008, all of the presentation slides and handouts for Reference Renaissance will posted to the conference site at http://www.bcr.org/referencerenaissance/index.html. Later in the year, Neal-Schuman will be publishing conference proceedings. I’m looking forward to those, since I (or anyone else) could only attend 1/6 of the offered sessions, plus the Keynote and the Plenary Session.

Also, as I write up sessions, I very much welcome comments and corrections. Just as I was physically unable to attend all 36 sessions, so too I might not have picked up on everything in the sessions I did attend or I might have accidentally misinterpreted something. Or maybe you’ve got a different take on the session you’d like to share.

Twitter: Not for Conferences for me

I recently spent some vacation time at ALA. I took it as vacation so I could visit friends and family after the conference was done.

Like Walt Crawford before me, I thought Twitter had potential as a communications tool during ALA. He didn’t find it helpful, but I thought it was worth a shot. I had a wireless comm device (An XO laptop), a group of colleagues at conference who were also on Twitter.

So I sent out updates and tried to organize lunches through Twitter. But it didn’t work out. Why?

The first time I tried to set up a lunch via Twitter, I asked people to DM me if they wanted to have lunch. I figured if anyone responded, I could send them my cell number and we could connect. Someone did. But when I went to send my cell number, the convention center wireless went out. Valerie Glenn, I’m very sorry. Technically this wasn’t Twitter’s fault.

Today I simply tweeted that I’d be in a certain place around noon. I went to the appointed place and had the good fortune to find a non-Twitter friend to have lunch with. I asked him to wait while I checked Twitter for other lunch partners. Twitter apologized for being over capacity and showed me a flock of birds.

This wasn’t the first trouble I’d had with Twitter at ALA and I wasn’t the only Twitter enthusiast who had trouble. A friend speculated that ALA might be at fault for Twitter because so many librarians have latched onto it so coming to a conference brought a burst of tweets too much  for ol Twitter to bear.

Whatever the reason, Twitter doesn’t seem to scale well and I’ll be leaving It out of my conference toolbox next time.  At least until I see some documented conference success stories.

Cheers for Padma

As I’ve mentioned before and will try not to overuse, I was named one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for 2008. In the printed issue, I was fortunate to share the page with Padma Polepeddi. I say fortunate, because based on her profile, I’d say we’re something of kindred spirits. She reportedly “buttonholes new immigrants to tell them, “All this is free!”” What she does for immigrants in person, I try to do for just about everybody online both for government information and for the journal databases that so many libraries and so few people know about.

In 2008, if you have an internet connection, you have access to a huge universe of quality resources if only you know where to look. In addition, if you live in the United States, then you likely live a relatively short distance from a public library which can get you just about any book, video, or sound recording you can think think. Try it out.

Welcome Determined LJ Readers!

At the possible risk of sounding narcissistic, I’d like to extend a warm Alaskan welcome to anyone who found this blog as a result of reading my profile On a Mission in the March 15, 2008 issue of Library Journal.

My post title refers to determined LJ readers because Library Journal printed the prior address for my personal blog instead of my new one at WordPress. For all I know I might have been the one to give them bad information.

But you’re here. First I want to say that if you’re really interested in my work with government documents on a professional level, you’re at the wrong place. Please stop reading right now and go visit my colleagues and I over at Free Government Information. Or better yet, go visit the ALA GODORT Wiki referred to in the article, State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States, or its companion highlights blog.

This blog here is about pretty much everything. It is not a focused library-related blog in the sense that say, librarian.net or Tame the Web are. But I have written a fair amount about govdocs, libraries, librarianship, etc. Here are some category links to get you started:

For a sense of my other interests, click on the categories cloud.

And if you’re not here because of the LJ article, thanks for your kind indulgence for letting me highlight some press coverage!

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