Category Archives: Libraries and Librarianship

9-11

We’ve come around to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the country. I was one of the bloggers who memorialized those who died on that horrible day, and the man whose name I was given was Howard Kane. I feel like I got to know Howard a bit in doing my research, and I think about him on this day and whenever I see the Towers.

I wonder how this day affects the families of those people who died. Is it a comfort to see the memorial blog posts and web pages, or is it a shattering reminder, a stab to the heart? While I want to remember Howard, I don’t want to be the cause of more grief for his family and friends.

I would hope and pray that the families have begun to heal a bit, for the rents in their hearts to begin to close. Having lost too many in our lives in the past three years, I understand a bit about the loss of a loved one….though having them torn from you in such a way must make the grieving that much deeper.

I pray that they have been blessed with God’s peace. I remember Howard, and trust he is at peace.

Eternal Rest, grant unto them, Oh, Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them.

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Post-surgical care

I had major surgery a few weeks ago.

I’ve been struggling with seriously arthritic knees for a few years now, thanks to my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. Genetic stuff. I had the knees of a 75-year old. Given that I’d love to travel to many different parts of the world where walking is the primary mode of transportation, the knees were a problem.

DH and DBF have been pushing me to go bionic for a while now, and I finally gave in and scheduled the surgery. I had bilateral knee replacement, which means I had both done at once. Some think I’m brave for having done it all at once. I know that I’m not brave at all, but know that I wouldn’t want to go through this twice…so getting them both done at once and getting it over with was right for me.

I came home from the hospital two days after the surgery, and have been largely confined to the bedroom and the chair in the living room. I’m getting around more now, but for the first three weeks or so, the bed and the recliner were my world. I discovered a few things in my recovery experience, and I think libraries might be able to develop programs to help.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • It’s really, really hard to read (and concentrate) when you’re on a bunch of pain meds. As much as I adore reading, I couldn’t. It was frustrating. After a few weeks, when the meds are reduced, you can read again….but for the first three weeks, it’s almost impossible.
  • Daytime television is truly abysmal. Awful stuff. And boring. And, if you’re stuck watching it, cruel and unusual punishment.

Here’s where libraries can come in. It would be fabulous to have Surgery Care Packages for patrons who have had surgery, and are looking for entertainment. It could contain audiobooks and movies for the first few weeks, and could segue to print books once the patient was able to read again. I would have jumped at something like that.

Think about it, libraries…especially if you have a large hospital in your community. You would be providing a very welcome service!

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Me and mine

California Dreaming

I’m at Internet Librarian in beautiful Monterey, California. It’s heady to be surrounded by librarians who are techie and talking about cutting edge topics: website security, digitizing local content, repositories, mobile tech….you get the idea. I’m actually presenting this year, which should be fun. I don’t present until Wednesday afternoon, so I have a few days to soak up the wisdom around me.

I’m presenting on UMR and our virtual library and the importance of information literacy. I’m co-presenting with librarians from the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library at the University of Nevada-Reno; they’re talking about having created a hacking mentality at their campus. Should be interesting!

Meanwhile, I managed to seriously tweak my knee the day before I left, to the point where I swallowed my pride and asked for a wheelchair to help me through the airports. Yikes. Luckily, it seems to have calmed down a bit, and I just keep reminding myself to take it slow.

I’ll be blogging about some of the presentations I attend, so you can virtually attend the conference with me. The sea may call me, however, and if my knee will allow, I may take a stroll on the wharf and listen to the sea lions.

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Make a Scene

There is a problem lurking in the library world, as anyone who reads library blogs no doubt already knows.  A pair of librarians had, in tweets, called out a librarian that had been sexually harassing librarians at conferences, and was apparently well-known for his advances, to the point that women would be specifically told to watch out for this guy. The problem? They named him by name.

His reaction was to sue them. (Really, dude?)

The library world is aghast that these women are being punished for naming their abuser and his behavior. A number of librarians have written about this, notably the Librarian in Black.

Another young librarian has now written on the subject, and brings up the chilling result of all this mess: she has been harassed, and is now afraid to name her aggressor.  This is a bad, bad thing, people.

As I commented to her, it’s awful that she had to deal with his behavior:

How awful. And creepy. I’m sorry this happened to you, and even sorrier that we have come to a place where we feel unsafe naming the culprits.

I must admit, I think I’m old enough now that I feel empowered to stop behavior like this, whereas when I was younger, I would have most likely reacted exactly like you did. You shouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense.

I would advocate for those of us who witness this behavior to step in and say something. We’re programmed to be nice, not make waves, not hurt people’s feelings. As a result, we tend to let behavior like this slide because we’re afraid of making a scene.

Let’s make scenes, people. I, for one, would be glad to assist in telling one of these idiots their behavior is NOT. OKAY.

Let’s do make scenes. If you see this, say something. Publicly. Pulling them aside may be more polite, but it also keeps the behavior private. These guys are counting on that privacy, that politeness. Call it out. Make a scene. And let’s stop this crap right damn now.

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Spell it out

There have been website updates recently for a couple of organizations with which I am associated. In one case, the web person forgot to put the name of the organization on the main page. (Oops.)  It’s too soon to tell with the other as it has yet to launch, but I’m sure there will be something.

Why?  Certainly not because the person in charge of the site is slipping. It’s simply that these sites are so big, it’s hard to see the details when you’ve been slogging through them for weeks and months.

It is imperative, therefore, to have someone that isn’t you or your staff or your web person take a look at your site to see where you might have missed something. Case in point, I’m doing some research for MPOW involving higher education conferences. In my research I’ve come across a number of sites that are Exceedingly Acronym Happy. One of these EAH sites has an acronym for its name….and never says what the thing means. I have no idea, even after looking in the “About us” section and the “FAQ” section and the “Contact us” section.

There’s something about this that makes me suspicious.  Perhaps you’re trying to sell me something and you’re hiding your real identity for unknown reasons. (Perhaps I’ve been reading too many mysteries and thrillers.) In any case, if you have an acronym on your site, at some point early on you need to spell it out.  This is one of those times when having an outsider take a look at your website would be helpful, especially if they’re not in on the acronym game. The first time someone says, “What’s that?” you have a clue to something that needs to be clarified.

Rant over. Back to searching for swell higher ed conferences. And, by the way, if there’s a conference you’ve attended that you recommend, please let me know!

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Filed under Academia, Miscellaneous

Character rant

I have a weird name.

I have two first names, which is not unusual for a woman of an age with Catholic roots. “Mary” variations were very popular, and it wasn’t unusual for people with the first name of “Mary” to also be called by their first and middle names. (Mary Jo, Mary Ann, Mary Sue, etc.) I’m called by my first name and a variation of my middle name, Elizabeth. So, Mary Beth.

I married later in life and it felt odd to lose my maiden name altogether, so I chose to hyphenate. (Luckily, I didn’t marry someone with a long, unwieldy surname.) My last name is Sancomb-Moran.

I can not tell you how annoying it is to be told by various and sundry online forms that my name is wrong. Can’t have a space in the first name. Can’t have a hyphen in the last name. Grrr.

Now, I understand that the two-name-first-name thing is a bit passé, but it’s not that unusual. And more and more women (and, occasionally, their spouses) are choosing to hyphenate.

For the love of all that’s holy, online retailers and all those with forms, get with the program! Do not create your forms so that it kicks out characters other than letters.  It can be done; I’ve seen it.

I’ve chosen to register/sign up/ join your organization. Don’t make me regret having done so because you’ve decided my name isn’t valid.

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Filed under Customer Service, Me and mine

Tweeting customer service

I’m impressed.

I stayed at the Washington Hilton recently while attending Computers in Libraries. I tweeted that I had checked in and got a response from the Hilton, welcoming me to DC. Nice touch.

When I got home and looked at my credit card bill, I realized there were two additional charges on my card that weren’t mine. I tried calling the hotel itself and getting it resolved, but not only do they have one of those über -annoying voice-mail menus, but I couldn’t get any help. Frustrated, I tweeted my annoyance.

Almost immediately, Hilton tweeted back. How could they help? They asked me to follow them so we could direct message. I did, and was contacted by Fran, who asked for details so she could resolve the problem.

This is serious customer service.

Twitter is sometimes dismissed as a fluffy venue for people to post about their lunch, or how much they want coffee, or complain about the weather.  Guilty as charged. However, it can be used as a terrific way to monitor your business reputation – or that of your library.  How wonderful would it be to be able to resolve a customer service issue for one of your library patrons?  If that patron is like me, they’ll be impressed and spread the word.

There are two great lessons to take away from this experience. The first was the welcome tweet. If you’re monitoring your library’s Twitter feed (and I’m assuming you are) you can respond to any patron who checks in, or mentions that they’ve visited. It’s a nice way to let them know you’re listening, and to appreciate them for their patronage.

The second is the customer service interaction. If a patron has a complaint, you can not only help to solve the problem, but you can keep the problem from escalating by dealing with it as soon as possible. The patron will be appreciative, and the resulting good will is priceless.

I must say, this has made me impressed enough with Hilton that I will go out of my way to stay at one of their hotels in the future. Good job!

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Filed under CILDC, Customer Service, Me and mine

Super Searcher Tips

Mary Ellen Bates

Motherpipe: search engine based on Bing, with servers in Germany.

Million short: remove top 100 to 1 million search.Long tail research.

Wikipedia different in different language versions.

Social-Searcher : search specific social media with different filters; analytics.

Twitter has improved its search function.

Hashtagify.me: find related hashtags on Twitter. Find top influencers, see popularity trends.

Use Pocket while searching. GetPocket.com. Browser extension. 1 Click saves pages, assign labels. Can push articles to phone.

Google Scholar Library: saves your cites in one place.  Can add labels to sort.

Searchonymous: anonymous Google while logged in. Firefox addon.

Find lists with Google: “top 10..30 tips” keyword.

Google maps gallery:  maps.google.com/gallery. Browse or search. World Bank, census, etc.

Google autcomplete: find alternatives to a product or service. something vs.

Google’s new site info card: learn more about the site before going to it.

Google images has added CC  filters.

Google media tools: google.com/get/mediatools

Google hack for job search, for jobs not listed outside their website.  site:taleo.net  intitle:career librarian Weird glitch: use (intitle:career OR intitle:careers)  gets many more hits.

Great presentation!

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Writing

I’m a voracious reader. Always have been; I’ve been reading whatever I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember. (I can actually distinctly remember the moment I realized that the symbols on the page were words.)  I’m a confirmed bibliophile, and have, at last count, nineteen bookcases at home.

Ironic that I’m the librarian at a virtual library.

I digress. As many voracious readers do, I imagine, I’ve often thought to myself that I could certainly write one of these things. I mean, I’ve read enough of them. How hard could it be?

*snort*

I have not written the great American novel. I haven’t written at all.  However, DBF has actually done so. She has written a terrific novel about friendship, and life in a small community, and how a woman can make a life for herself. And there’s a goat.

It really is a wonderful read, and it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon and will be soon at Barnes & Noble.  Trust me.  You’re gonna love it.  In the meantime, visit her blog.  You’ll find some terrific writing there, too.

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Maturity

There’s a new survey that’s getting a bit of attention from “mature” librarians.  It’s not good attention.

The survey is for The Mature Librarian, and purports to uncover the challenges we mature folk have doing our jobs as librarians. Interestingly, none of the challenges I face are included. Instead, the possible problems are insulting at best. To wit:

4. What do you feel are the four greatest challenges to you as a mature librarian? Please rank them with 1 being the greatest, 2 the next greatest and so forth
1 2 3 4
Keeping up with technology
Working with younger employees
Keeping track of meetings, trainings, appointments and other library business.
Feeling obsolete
Participating in work related travel
Attending meetings
Adapting to new initiatives, such as “makerspaces”, “learning commons”, etc.
Learning new procedures
Other (please specify)
Oh, sweetie.  You really don’t want me to fill in the “Other (please specify) box.
The survey goes on to ask whether mature librarians should retire, so that younger librarians could take their place.  The survey invites you to elaborate on your answer, should you choose to do so. I would do so, but I try not to use that kind of language in public.
What the hell? This kind of ridiculous stereotyping is unhelpful at best, and vicious at worst. I am, as many of my “mature” counterparts are, rather skilled in using and adapting to new technologies, thank you very much. (And by the way, just what generation do you suppose invented all this stuff??)
I am not alone in my disgust.  It will be interesting to see how long the survey stays online.
Update: The survey is being run by two librarians, one at Belmont University in Nashville, TN and the other at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, TN.  Here’s the program description for which they’re conducting the survey:
"The story of the mature librarian will be discussed. How can the 55 and over librarian remain relevant? How can the older librarian keep up with new technologies and work with much younger colleagues? Learn how to stay current, cope with all the changes that are taking place in the workplace and remain vital  to the organization in which you work if you are over 55"
Update, part two: Some librarians are having great fun with this.

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Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."