Samantha's blog

Head of Tech Svcs position at MPOW

HI folks,

Sorry about the dearth of posting but I've been filling in as temporary co-head of technical services here. I wanted to post the ad for the position here and STRONGLY encourage everyone and anyone to apply--it's tiring doing two jobs at once!

Midwinter roundup

I have to present my Midwinter report at work today, so I figured I'd organize my thoughts here.

COMM--my new committee is the Committee on Membership Meetings, or COMM. We pick a topic for discussion and lay out the agenda for the sparsely attended ALA Membership Meetings at Annual. I always try to attend these and I'm not sure why others don't. Too many conflicts, I'd guess? This year we'll be discussing electronic participation, which should be interesting and timely. Very smooth committee, I very much enjoyed the meeting. Things actually got done!

Balancing Baby and Book--a new discussion group for ACRL about parenting in academia. Probably one of the best things I attended. I met a lot of other new parents and future parents and we got to compare how our places of work dealt with balance issues. I hope this goes somewhere--I haven't heard from anyone since we left Philly.

EBSCO Lunch--EBSCO is doing some interesting things but I lost the handouts. I don't remember any groundshaking revelations though.

NMRT All Committee Meeting and Candidate Forum--I am running for NMRT Treasurer so I got to answer questions about what I would do if I won. I'm almost 'graduated' from this group (you can only belong for your first ten years of ALA) and I will miss it when my time's up. -- Read More

Made to stick presentation

I promised to give a little feedback on the presentation I was giving on Made To Stick, an excellent book by Chip and Dan Heath. I read this book on maternity leave and immediately thought, "all librarians need to know this!" So I signed up to present a session on applying Made to Stick to the library world for our state's Academic and Special Libraries retreat two weeks ago.

For those who haven't read the book yet, it's a treatise on how to make your ideas more memorable. Obviously librarians have to do this all the time--teaching, working with patrons at the desk, talking with administrators and colleagues, etc. The book lays out what I called the keys to SUCCES, which stood for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories. These are the six ways to make your ideas sticky. It also begins and ends with a warning about the Curse of Knowledge--just because you know something you tend to forget what it's like not to know it, and you may lose your audience just because of that.

Overall, I think it went well. We had a lot of fun with the session and people seemed to remember it after we left. You can see my presentation and handout at if you'd like to learn a bit more.

even more on vote smart

I haven't been to LISNews in quite some time! As they say, I've been busy. The last time I posted the baby was two weeks old; she is now more than five months old! Wow.

Anyhow, I am compelled to post the latest about Project Vote Smart because they are just too hysterical to let go. Remember how they weren't going to send material to libraries anymore without an endorsement from ALA? And how it was so expensive? Well, their director got a half million dollar salary+bonus last year. This from an organization with a $1.5 million budget. Disgraceful!

been a bit busy lately...

Conference posting is about to take a nosedive as I gave birth to my first child on Friday April 6th. I had in fact planned to go to the Montana Library Association conference this week with baby in tow but decided last Monday that that would be madness. I am also scrapping ALA Annual this summer. I do plan to present at the Pacific Northwest Library Assn conference in August, however, so look forward to some conference blogging then, and perhaps some retrospective blogging of other events I've attended lately.

change; or, staying the same

I've been working on a research project that requires me to try to find contact information for a librarian associated with a specific program at some randomly selected institutions that offer said program. This involved a lot of looking at library websites. I remember I had a similar research project when I worked for Project Vote Smart in 1999. Library websites and online directories have vastly improved in the 8 years since then, but there are still a few out there that I can't find any information on, and there's even a handful of libraries that still have no email or chat contacts on their websites, only phone numbers. There are even a couple of libraries that don't have websites that I can find (gasp!).

This ties in with another research project I'm working on regarding the development of outreach to remote library users (although that project is starting to grow way beyond its constraints into a monster time-suck!). Most libraries since the mid 90s have dramatically developed an online presence involving virtual reference and other services so users don't have to set foot in the library to find the information they need. But some have not. I wonder why. This is probably why the second research project keeps expanding!

ALA MW report #3 - candidates

Well, it's only been a couple months--here's my final post on Midwinter. I got to meet a number of the candidates for offices which was a fun new experience. Both candidates for ALA president visited NMRT and IFC meetings to tell us their spiel. Both Jim Rettig and Nancy Davenport seem like excellent people with lots of great ideas, and I really don't feel like we can go wrong with either one of them. Jim has gotten a lot of buzz on the biblioblogosphere as he is a fellow blogger, and he is a former president (I think?) of what was then Junior Members Roundtable. However, Nancy was also pretty impressive--she had well-thought-out ideas for each of the groups I was with on how she could work with us to further our cause or constituency. One really great example of this that she shared at NMRT Exec Board was of combining conference with continuing education short courses offered through local library schools--something that met for a few days with a bit more meat than a preconference, so that it may be easier for people to justify coming to conference from a continuing education standpoint.

I also attended the ACRL candidates forum and again felt like the candidates were pretty evenly matched. From a public speaking standpoint I liked Scott Walters a bit better--he seemed more polished and prepared than Erika Linke. But from the perspective of the ideas presented, both candidates had good ideas and a good sense of what the membership of ACRL could use.

ALA-WO lecture in Second Life

Last night I attended my first lecture in Second Life. It was hosted by the ALA Washington Office and featured Dave Lankes presenting on a paper he's written about participatory networks and libraries.

I have dinked around a bit with Second Life in the past and can see that it has some potential. However, I'm not sure that other web conferencing or distance education tools don't work better--the lecture was text, not audio. The slides were a bit hard to read. I didn't realize I could mute side 'conversations' in the chat until the very end, which would have made it more enjoyable of an experience.

However, it did have that cool video-game-like atmosphere going for it and it was completely free, which are two good points. There was a definite collaborative feel to the whole venture that I really liked. It was interesting to feel free to interrupt the presenter at any time to ask questions, or to have the presenter interact as much with the audience as Dave did.

I am hopeful that ALA and other library groups will do more events like this. If only I had more hours in the day to explore all the great 2.0 things out there!

ALA MW report #2--New Members Roundtable

I'm the Outreach Director for New Members Roundtable until 2008. It's an elected position and I'm so glad I was voted in because I really appreciate all NMRT does for ALA. I always promote the heck out of NMRT to anyone who will listen and so I'm delighted to represent them more officially.

The first session I attended for NMRT at this Midwinter was the candidate forum and all committee meeting. Sally Bickley and Laurel Bliss, VP/Pres elect, Emily Rimland, Secretary, Michael Bolam and John Meier, Member Services Director, took part in the candidate forum this Midwinter. Others who are running for office but couldn't participate are Terry Buckner and Akeisha Heard, Secretary, Dawn Lowe-Wincensten and Veronica Stevenson-Moudamane, Member Services Director, and Kristina DeVoe and Anne Robert, Leadership Director. You can learn more about the candidates from the Online Forum beginning in February on NMRT-L and by visiting .

Some other tidbits from NMRT President Amanda Roberts' presentation at this meeting: We currently have 2200 members in NMRT. This annual we will be celebrating our 75th anniversary, and we are planning a great social to which all attendees are invited--hope to see you there! The president's program will feature Pat Wagner and should be very good as well.

Nanette Donohue, VP/Pres Elect, also shared her presidential theme: Thinking Ahead: The Future of Library Leadership. She is planning to take advantage of the ALA online community to provide some online lectures, an online orientation program, a blog, and other tie ins throughout next year. I'm happy to see our group will start using this tool to reach our members who may not be able to attend conferences.

Additionally, the May issue of Footnotes (the roundtable newsletter) will be peer reviewed and feature scholarly articles. This is a first for NMRT.

I also attended the NMRT Executive Board Meeting for the first time as an officer.
We were visited by ALA Presidential candidates Nancy Davenport and Jim Rettig. It was wonderful that the candidates for ALA President recognized the value of NMRT and wanted to stop by to ask us questions and answer ours as well.

ALA MW report #1--IFC

I'm trying to ease myself back into conference blogging. I got a lot out of it for the conferences I managed to do it for, so here's the first one from Midwinter 07.

I'm on two committees for ALA and have one elected office so I'm pretty busy going to meetings. This first report will be about the ALA Council Committee for which I am an intern--the Intellectual Freedom Committee.

This is an exciting, dynamic committee and I always learn the most from these meetings. It is also a contentious committee among some members of ALA--obviously any committee that discusses intellectual freedom will have its share of controversy and debate both within and outside the meetings. I know that Greg was in attendance at our first meeting and blogged about it here and here. The topic of that particular meeting was primarily Cuban librarians. I have no particular position on the issue personally, but I did support the committee's agreement that it was not our fight. Our charge and our focus is on US intellectual freedom issues, and I think Greg did a good job pointing that out.

Other issues that we discussed at Midwinter include:

  • The National Discussion on Privacy. To fulfill a resolution adopted by Council at ALA Annual 06, the IFC will assemble and present a national conference on privacy, tentatively titled "Taking Back American Values." This conference will work to be collaborative across the library world and the US at large. Topics to be discussed include sniffer software, ISP user tracking, NSA surveillance of citizens, CALEA, Council of Europe treaty on cybercrime, DHS surveillance of citizens, and Justice Department surveillance of citizens.
  • Discussion on the core values and priorities of ALA. How can these fit in with accreditation processes and Leslie Burger's National Library Agenda?
  • Intellectual Freedom programs to be presented at ALA Annual 07: A preconference on the Library Bill of Rights sponsored by IFRT; programs on Bush Administration policies and IF, the need for information ethics training, RFID, whistleblowing (should be very exciting!) and a discussion between a judge from US Ct of Appeals 7th Circuit and a law professor on liberty vs national security (also should be very interesting!).

This is just a very brief summary of the 12 hours(!) we spent together as a committee--if you have any questions about specifics or want more information on any point just let me know. More to come soon!

making library instruction fun again

We just got a Smartboard here at MPOW. When I first heard about it I was underwhelmed. Why would we want to write on what we project onto our screens? Then I saw a demo of it and thought it was just the coolest thing ever, to be able to circle or draw arrows to links on our website, underline hours or important help tips on websites, or even just doodle while I was waiting for the class to show up. So I eagerly volunteered to be the first to teach with the Smartboard.

I'm not so sure it revolutionized the way I teach library sessions, but it was surely fun. And it was really neat to have the students actually ooh and ahh over what I was showing them. They were totally into it just because I could make it that much different for them.

I'll have to wait and see a few weeks until they are heavily researching to find out if their increased attention paid off with better retention. Probably the only additional message they got out of the session was that the library has really cool toys, and I'm okay with that.

what is this lack of moisture falling from the sky?

As you may guess from the subject, I am in Seattle at Midwinter, and we are being treated to the lovely but rare sight of Seattle in the sunshine today. Not sure how many LISNewsterz are here but I hope to actually get around to doing a conference report on this blog once I get back. And if you are here, I am pretty easy to spot since I am nearly 7 months pregnant (part of the reason I have been slow to update lately). Hope all the conference-goers are enjoying the sun!

a fun email reference question!

> Online email form:
> Name : XXXXXX
> Question : Is there really an Organization
> called "Citizens for a Poodle Free
> Montana?" If so is there a contact?


I am guessing you have seen the t-shirts for sale around town with that slogan and image on it. The image was actually created as part of a postcard series by an artist named Greg Leichner in 1994. The artist moved here from New Mexico and according to reports tried to use the image to launch a campaign for President. I can't find any evidence of a real group or organization by that name.

Here are some links that discuss the artist and his work:

Thanks for the very interesting question!

Reference Librarian

What kind of reader meme

Thanks to the Annoyed Librarian for this one...

What Kind of Reader Are You? Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm Literate Good Citizen Book Snob Non-Reader Fad Reader What Kind of Reader Are You?Create Your Own Quiz

SciFi book club meme

I saw this on a few places in my aggregator this morning..

Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant
SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones
you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you
started but never finished and put a star next to the ones you love.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R.

2. The Foundation Trilogy,
Isaac Asimov

3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange
Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K.
Le Guin [?]

6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream
of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion
Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit
451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter
M. Miller, Jr.

13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry
17. Dangerous
Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R.

24. The Forever War, Joe

25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the
Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire,
Anne Rice

30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip
K. Dick

34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith

37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama,
Arthur C. Clarke

39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt

43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester

46. Starship Troopers, Robert A.

47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go,
Philip Jose Farmer

Excitement on the night shift

Sorry I haven't been posting much. I am hopefully hitting a slower period at work so I'll be able to put up some thoughts about projects we're working on here to find out what you all think.

I'm working the evening shift tonight as I usually do on Thursdays. Tomorrow is a campus holiday so not much is going on. My main concern was staying awake until a student worker came over to me and said, "There's a man at the circ desk who says he needs to be committed. What should I do?"

What indeed? This is a new one for me and of course there are no supervisors in the building. The man came over to the ref desk and he was pretty agitated. I asked him if he would like us to call campus security over to talk to him and he said yes. I told him we'd give them a call and they'd be here in a few minutes, and he could have a seat with me at the desk, or over in our reading area, or just wait in the lobby. He distractedly wandered off while the worker called security. The poor guy finally settled in one of our comfy chairs and I kept an eye on him until the cops showed up. He didn't seem like he was a danger to anyone but I suppose you never know.

Very strange evening. I guess that's what I get for thinking things were too slow!

Yahoo Answers

Yahoo Answers has been around for a while now, since the end of 2005, but I've finally got a chance to explore over there a bit these past few weeks.

For those unfamiliar with how the service works, users can both pose and answer questions, as well as vote on the responses. It's like a social virtual reference desk. Participants receive points for voting on and answering questions and spend out points to ask questions.

As you can imagine, there's a fair amount of gaming going on as people try to jockey for points. And as you also may imagine, most of these questions can be easily answered (and more quickly and correctly!) by any reference librarian. About 20% of the time so far my answers have been chosen as the best by voters just because I actually answer the question and provide supporting information. I bet if I had time to really exert myself I'd be raking in points and kudos.

Cruising through Yahoo Answers is an interesting experience--why don't these people turn to an authoritative resource? It seems that authoritative responses are appreciated. I suppose there is an attraction to getting answers from peers, plus Yahoo is already a service these people are using for IM and email. Maybe the library is just not on their personal radar. Or maybe they think their questions are not worthy of our attention.

I'm not sure I'll become a Yahoo Answers regular but it has been interesting to check it out and test out my reference 'chops' on some of the harder questions. I recommend checking it out for yourself, and perhaps even answering a few questions (they could use the help!).

OCLC Symposium from ALA Annual available online

In New Orleans I got to attend a great symposium by OCLC entitled "Preserving Library Core Value and Envisioning the Future." It featured Derek Woodgate, Founder and President of The Futures Lab; Wendy L. Schultz, Ph.D., Director of Infinite Futures: Foresight Research, Training and Facilitation; and Stacey Aldrich, Assistant Director of the Omaha (Nebraska) Public Library System. Pretty interesting stuff. It's now available online for your viewing on OCLC's site.

a new type of chat reference question

Chat Transcript: Hello, I'm doing a report on the game of World of Warcraft, if my mage got 2 shotted by a rogue do you think should I reroll a class with higher survivability?

I advised rerolling, with the caveat that I am by no means an expert. I also sent the patron to some WoW forums.

This question was then followed by genealogy, which is usually the only kind of question I get when on shift. WoW reference was a refreshing change of pace!

Possibly the last word on Vote Smart

The Missoula Independent has an article in their latest issue about Project Vote Smart's malfunctions in communication with organizations big and small, and how they may leave Montana. In the article is a brief interview with Michael Gorman about the ALA debacle, where Project Vote Smart refused to continute providing free materials to libraries without an endorsement. Turns out that ALA was not the first nor the last organization yanked around by Project Vote Smart, as I could tell you based on my experiences there. Not that I'm bitter, no...

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