Post Number Five: Hip Shushers?

July 16, 2007

It has been more than a week since the publication of the New York Times article “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” (in the Style section, July 8, 2007).  This was an article on a group of young librarians in NYC who have formed a social organization called Desk Set which arranges meetings for drinks and noshes in the environs of art galleries  (this one has a library-themed exhibition) and other places with high intellectual-fun content.  This article makes much of the fact that these librarians, archivists, and library students behave like other young, smart urbanites:  they like to dance, they wear some thrift-store chic clothing, they are very tech-savvy, they have tattoos (one “guybrarian” has “a tattoo of the logo from the Federal Book Depository Program peeking out of his black tee shirt sleave”).

The appearance of the article has prompted reams of comment from library bloggers and library watchers.  As no one else in the LIS753 room has taken official notice of this article and the teapot tempest it has stirred up in the biblioblogosphere, I thought I might put in a word.

Many of the bloggers reacting to this thing have taken exception with the New York Times reporter Kara Jesella`s take on the stereotypes associated with the library profession.  Some think the whole concept of a stereotype-to-be-overthrown is false.  Others think she is replacing one sterotype with another: that of the ‘hip librarian,’ which could be just as deadly.  Some are annoyed that these young New Yorkers have been singled out by a powerful news source to represent the new face of the profession, when in fact the profession has many faces, and many of the older faces belong to librarians who believe that they are still ‘hip.’  The commentary has ranged in tone from  deliciously droll  to acidic.  One blog that has a nice collection of links to several of these blog reactions is that of Eric Childress.  I would recommend scrolling down to his comments collection for those links.

As for me, sure, I thought the Jesella article was a bit fluffy: it was in the Style section, after all.  And sure, there might be something about the piece that invites an unwarranted generalized image of young library professionals.  And O.K., I might agree that there is more self-promotion coursing through the NY metropolitan bloodstream than you might find elsewhere (one blogger cracked that the next article should be about young, hip NY sanitation workers).  Yet I can`t see why so many people are reacting with such apparent revulsion.

The Desk Set organization is quite new.  They seem to be people who are interested in having a good time and meeting other like-minded people in the library world.  I see nothing wrong with that.  Maybe some of them really are snobby, self promoting jerks— but I see no real evidence of that either in the Times piece or in their myspace page.  This group looks to me like a bunch of smart people looking for smart fun, and finding ways to promote literacy while they are having their fun.  I notice that they are selling a tote bag with their ‘Desk Set’ logo on it.  That sounds to me like a real organization, possibly the sort that will evolve into a fraternal/service organization, rather than the hipper-than-thou clique that some bloggers are portraying.

The overall tone of the NY Times piece was positive.  So much of the library-blogging reaction has been negative that I wonder why this piece should have struck a nerve.  Do the bloggers who disliked the piece because it partially dealt with stereotypes really think that these twentysomethings with their Dewey decimal designated cocktails represent some new stereotype?  Again, I don`t see that.  It looks to me like they are speaking for themselves and not presuming to speak for the profession.

Perhaps in the discussion of this little human-interest feature that appeared in the Times there should be less emphasis on who thinks who is ‘hip’ and more emphasis on the lessons one might take away from the creativity expressed by this Desk Set crowd.  That would be really hip.

Worth Reading, Lib 2.0 Fans

July 12, 2007

For anyone interested in nature of Library 2.0 processes for the library worker and the reasons why they are important, I draw your attention to todays blog post by David Lee King.  David is a librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (check out the Digital Boot Camp) and a well-known figure in the Lib 2.0 world, as Professor Stephens can attest.  His blog is full of thought-provoking observations about library-tech stuff and the ways we can use it.

In recent posts Mr. King has suggested the “Basic Competencies of a 2.0 Librarian,” a nuts and bolts list of digital skills that a “2.0 Librarian” should possess.  After the second of those posts, which updated the first, he was challenged by a commenter on his blog, who wondered why Library 2.0 skills should be necessary for most librarians.  This person wanted to know why these skills are useful for the library world when they can`t be used on most library computers.  Mr. King`s response to this comment took the form of his post for today (July 12th, 2007).  In today`s post, David Lee King presents a reasoned rationale for learning the Library 2.0 skills in the context of the way our society (and our libraries` place in it) is evolving.

This group of posts by Mr. King is directly related to the content of LIS753 and I recommend them to everyone involved in this class. 

Post Number Four: Library Link of the Day

June 30, 2007

One of the library-world websites that appeals to me is Library Link of the Day.  This site will be familiar to many of you who are web-savvy and/or who have been working in the library world for some years.  It is worth a look for anyone not familiar with it.  Each day the website selects a web page from the internet that contains interesting information related to the library world.  The source may be a journal, like Library Journal, or a newspaper, or a web-based publication, or a library site, or someone`s blog.  Each web page that is chosen becomes that days syndicated piece.  The user may choose to view the link of the day and move on, or subscribe to the website either through an RSS feed or by an email application, both of which are free.

To me, one of the best things about this site is that it introduces the library worker  to  a wider world of digitally based library conversations.   The explanatory matter on the home page makes it clear that this is a prime function of the site.  There is a link within the introductory paragraphs that will bring up a categorized group of library blogs, and often within any given web page that is selected as the Link of the Day there are other links to library blogs with interesting content.  I think this is a fine, creative use of RSS.  For someone who may not know where to start exploring the biblioblogosphere, this site should be recommended.

Another aspect of this site that I admire is that the content is so varied and carefully chosen that it is bound to appeal to  people working  in vastly different areas of the library community and entice them to learn something about areas that may be unfamiliar to them.  The content comes from libraries and publications all over the world.  If one of the most important facets of the internet is the opportunity it provides for growing the individual`s imaginative participation in a wider world, then Library Link of the Day  is another example of how that growth can be made  easily available.

All entries are archived with links on the home page, so that if you are on vacation for a month without internet access (hard to imagine), you can catch up on your LibLinks afterward.  However, one can`t wait too long.   Some of the links in the archive (which goes back over four years) ‘die’ as the source moves on creating new content.  A surprising number of the older links remain active, however, and some of those web pages that do not come up can be brought up with a search of the source website.

The content made available here falls into many categories.  Today`s link (June 30) is focussed squarely on web communications, as Bradley Horowitz (a chief designer for Yahoo) discusses the feasibility of creating a “universal resolver,” a code protocol for identifying every entity one could possibly refer to, without confusion.  Other web pages linked by this website discuss matters as diverse as privacy issues,  social networking and copyright, library practices instruction,  and  digital rights management.  There are personal essays, such as one about the uniquely humane atmosphere of bookish places.  There are stories of people in the library community, such as Jackie, a homeless woman who reads as if her life depends on it.  There are stories of people, such as a digital publisher in Egypt, who are remaking our world and directly affecting our libraries.

Anyone who hasn`t given this site a try is in for a treat.  I would recommend delving into the archived links and looking for stories and ideas that intrigue you.  You will find an occasional  lapsed link, but the hunt will be worth it.

Post Number Three: Blog People?

June 16, 2007

The other day I was perusing David Lee King`s blog and came across his post concerning the recent internet activity of the distinguished librarian and teacher Michael Gorman.  Mr. Gorman had previously expressed views about blogging in a Library Journal article (“Revenge of the Blog People” February 15, 2005) that suggested that the whole enterprise of blogging is not as serious as the enterprise of print publication, and that bloggers generally are not serious readers, writers, or thinkers.  It was, then, deliciously ironic for Mr. King to find that Mr. Gorman was expressing his latest thoughts about the phenomenon of Web 2.0 in the form of a blog post on a blog platform provided by Encyclopedia Britannica.  As David put it: “…its just so hard not to write about this.”

 Michael Gorman`s essay in the Britannica blog (in two parts) is titled: “Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason.”  Mr. Gorman expresses the view that the culture of print is far more useful than the culture of digital representation because print publication involves a tradition of careful editing and of responsible use of authentic sources, while the nascent digital culture has no such established tradition.  Mr. King (rightly, I think) points out with a dash of glee that Mr. Gorman`s blog post purports to be about Web 2.0, but in fact has nothing to do with it.  Mr. King leaves the impression that Mr. Gorman misses the whole point of Web 2.0 and that, despite his assertion that he is not an “Antidigitalist,” Mr. Gorman is opposing some of the best new things the internet has to offer (e.g. Web 2.0).

I am myself an old fashioned guy, a middle-aged bibliophile with a healthy respect for the traditions of the print culture.  I naturally empathize with Michael Gorman`s apparent unease in the presence of a rapidly changing literate world that is moving inexorably in the digital direction.  I believe, however, that the print culture that Mr. Gorman seems to want to defend really doesn`t require a defence as such.  The culture of the book has a lot of life left in it.

More to the point, the digital means of expression such as the weblog are more like a new toolkit than a different way of approaching the process of writing, editing and publishing.  It may be, as Mr. Gorman believes, that most of what you may read in any given blog is not necessarily well written or well thought out or does not rise above the level of navel-gazing.  Yet I suspect that most readers understand the limitations of the form, as well as its possibilities (e.g. the wealth of associations provided by links).  I also suspect that if we conducted a grand analysis of everything printed since Gutenberg, we would find that the majority of it might fit Mr. Gorman`s definition of junk (whatever that might be).

As I view the literate world, we can be both book people and blog people.  We don`t have time to read everything, but then we never did.

Post Number Two: One I Like

June 3, 2007

My first post was devoted to an examination of my own public library`s website within the context of the library 2.0 model. This time I am pointing out a public library website that I think is particularly successful in concept and design. This is the Skokie Public Library website:

When I look at the home page for this site, three things strike me at once: the clean, uncluttered, inviting look of the overall design; the way the central imagery (the astronaut figure) draws the viewer in to the message about their summer reading program; the way site allows the visitor multiple avenues for searching within a simple frame.

To begin with the design elements, the colored tabs at the top take the visitor to the more popular or obvious categories of library service for advice about what`s new at the library. The sidebar (to the left) provides a nicely organized menu of tabs-within-tabs that allow a more in depth presentation of services.

The central panel (with the astronaut) obviously serves as a kind of changable billboard to promote library programs. Many public library sites don`t have any such changable element in their designs. If you want to connect with the 2.0 generation, I suspect that this site, both tab-organized and malleable, would be one to emulate.

As to the ways in which this site allows a more user-friendly search than most, I would draw the visitor`s attention to the bottom of the home page. There you will see an “automatic site translations” device: a box with five languages represented (Chinese, Greek, Korean, Russian and Spanish). Any visitor to the site may click on any of these language signs and the content of the entire site is then rendered into that language.

Next to the translations device is a little sign that says “visit SkokieNet.” Clicking on that brings up a website,

that is an information network devoted to providing the latest municipal and regional information for the Skokie patron. Partly sponsored and organized by the Skokie Public Library, SkokieNet draws participating organizations from commercial, non-profit, and governmental spheres into a single information site. This site is twelve years old, which suggests to me that Skokie was ahead of the curve in the Ninties. There are still many communities who don`t have a site like this now.

True, this site does not suggest that RSS feeds and DVD downloads from the homepage are around the corner. From a library 2.0 point of view, the Skokie PL site still needs some work. Yet I can`t help feeling that this is a site that reaches out to its patron base in a stylishly effective way, and succeeds in drawing its patrons in to use their library. That is really what it should be all about.

Post Number One: Library 2.0 @ NPL

May 20, 2007

When I began my employment at the Naperville Public Library three years ago ‘Library 2.0’ was already a hot topic of discussion.  One of the supervising librarians whom I befriended and who seemed to me a particularly acute observer of the library landscape (or e-scape) was assigning Library 2.0 readings to the adult services staff as required reading.  Since then, it seems to me that my library is moving toward embracing the concepts involved in the ‘2.0’ model of operation.  So lets take a look at my library`s website, and see where we are now.

The NPL website: does contain several elements associated with the ‘Library 2.0’ mode of operation.  There are ‘e-services’ throughout the site, such as e-mail reference service under: “Questions? Just Ask”(available to NPL patrons in three flavors: direct e-mail with reference staff, a link to an on-line tutoring service for students and a link to “Ask Away,” the recently formed network of reference service organized by the Illinois State Library).  You will also find elements of on-line service that are available on other public library sites:  an on-line catalog, a selection of e-books that can be downloaded from the NPL website to patron computers, several links providing information about services and means to order them, and a selection of databases (more than most libraries provide)accessable to patrons from their own computers.

A new service (and you know its just been rolled out because there`s a bright yellow new sign next to it) on the NPL site is RSS linking.  Each patron can create their own RSS account within the NPL site to automaticly provide the patron with updated information about services the can choose (such as new books, selected databases and library events).  The RSS page provides instructions for linkage to web browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer and to personal webpages such as those available from AOL or Yahoo.  There is also a suggestion box for patrons who may want a particular service update that the NPL administrators havn`t thought of yet.  This last feature seems to me the one most in keeping with the ‘Library 2.0’ model.

I know that digital video downloads are in the pipeline at NPL.  They will be available to staff in the near future as an experiment for our IT department.  As soon as the IT department feels comfortable that this system is working properly, DV downloads will then be offered to NPL patrons.

One thing that is so far missing from the ‘Library 2.0’ package at the Naperville Public Library is text messaging.  It doesn`t have a presence yet on the site (though I`m not sure how that would work) or in practice within the library buildings, that I have been able to observe.  This is a question that may be on the table for NPL administration, as many of its youngest patrons are frequent TM users and might profit from the availability of this service. 

I have also heard some patrons express some quibbles about the design of the website.  Some folks think the overall design is a bit clunky.  They wish for tabs instead of word linkage or pictorial linkage.  As for me, I have seen cleaner designs, I suppose, but I have also seen much worse.

Summing up, the ‘Library 2.0’ model seems to be infuencing my library in a positive way.  One thing my library has done for many years now is to constantly survey their card-holding patron base.  They are always open to suggestions and looking for ways to get patron input.  If you look at the middle of the website, you will see a link to a customized vacation library materials package that the library offers for families going on vacation.  This is just the sort of service that a library that is patron-driven should provide.  So, as far as the ‘Library 2.0’ model is concerned, NPL seems to be moving in the right direction.

This is my first post.

May 13, 2007

Welcome to my blog.

No smoke driving home today.

Hello world!

May 13, 2007

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!