Last Friday, August 22nd, the California State Senate voted unanimously to confirm Governor Brown’s nomination of Greg Lucas as California State Librarian.

When Lucas was nominated I had some things to say. I wrote letters to senators, reached out to CLA leadership, and talked extensively with other California librarians about the nomination.

Now that Lucas has been confirmed I have some more things to say.

I cannot overemphasize that I have no negative feelings toward Greg Lucas whatsoever. Although his lack of education and experience in libraries (or anything library-related, or large-organization-related) bothers me tremendously, ignorance is not a personal flaw. Libraries’ core mission is to help people learn more and combat ignorance. I have met Lucas twice and am convinced he is trying to learn.

That being said, as I pointed out in my original blog post, the California State Education Code clearly states:

19302. The division shall be in charge of a chief who shall be a technically trained librarian and shall be known as the “State Librarian.”

In his confirmation hearing with the Senate Rules Committee, Lucas stated that he had just begun, this month, taking a class (yes, that’s “a class” singular) from San Jose State University’s controversially newly renamed School of Information. A few weeks of one class does not a librarian make. Can you imagine a state attorney or physician being appointed with as little training? “Well, I’ve taken ‘Intro to Human Biology’ for a few weeks so I think I’m good to go leading up the State’s efforts on healthcare reform.” Never. That would never, ever happen.

Again, this isn’t Lucas’s fault–he’s trying. It’s the Governor’s and the Senate’s fault for not doing their job and appointing an actual librarian to be the State Librarian.

Let’s take a few facts from the hearings and look at what they tell us.

1) Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg said to Mr. Lucas, “We have all known you for a long time.”

Because knowing someone for a long time in your inner circles qualifies him for a trained, professional post. Oh no, that’s right–that’s cronyism.

2) Current President of the California Library Association, Deborah Doyle, said in the same breath that she’s impressed by Lucas’s performance and also that “It is a political appointment. He seems to have lots of connections that sometimes people who have been born and raised in the library system don’t normally have.” Following Doyle’s lead, CLA’s President-Elect, Robert Karatsu, said much the same thing.

Wow. So, yes, you’re right Ms. Doyle. It’s a political appointment. So why bother stand up for librarians’ professional values, your responsibility to communities across the state, and say what’s on the minds of the state’s librarians? Oh yeah, politics. Politics infiltrate the library world as much as anyplace else. That doesn’t mean that it’s moral or acceptable to not speak up and advocate for those you are tasked to represent.

3) Lobbyists from the California School Library Association, the California SEIU, and the California Student Aid Commission also testified in support of the nomination.

Really? These groups, especially the California SEIU who represents degree-holding librarians across the state, did not have a problem with this? Or is it again, at the risk of being cliche, politics as usual?

I am convinced that the State Senate did not question Lucas’s qualifications because of two factors: 1) They assumed that librarians, quiet little meek mice that we are, would not raise objections about the technical lack of qualifications of the nominee; and 2) They were right, at least in regard to the organizations tasked with advocating for libraries in California.

I will echo what I said in my first post: I sincerely hope Greg Lucas turns out to be a truly kick-ass State Librarian.

And yet I am hugely disappointed by the actions of the California Library Association’s leadership, by the actions of people who supported these actions, actively or implicitly, and by those who stood silently by as this unfolded.  Shame on all of you. You failed. You let a bad thing happen without fighting it.

I’m a librarian, I’m proud of being a librarian, and I’m not going to stand idly by while our profession and the services we provide to our communities get stomped into the ground and devalued by politicians in Sacramento.

These are the days of NSA spying headlines, complaints about companies using and misusing private data to conduct psychological experiments, sell us things, and change the way we engage with politics.

I received a tip from a whistle blower that Rosetta Stone’s Library Edition was setting ad tracking cookies (without disclosure or consent) on the personal computers of any library users who used the Library Edition that is offered through their libraries. This applied not only to the full product, but also to any library offering a temporary trial of the product.

The source stated that the tracking cookies are linked to Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, and were being used to display Rosetta Stone ads on any website within Google’s syndication network that the patron subsequently visits.  The ads in question promoted the complete Rosetta Stone set (Levels 1-5). Why does that make sense? Because the Library Edition only contains Level 1 for any of the offered languages. And advertising additional levels = $$$ for Rosetta Stone.

I was at first skeptical, as I am of all claims about library companies doing nefarious things. I get more of these tips than you’d think, and most of them turn out to be bogus once I test them and talk with the company.

But, in this case, my corporate bullshit detector was already buzzing about Rosetta Stone after they all but gave the finger to libraries who had been licensing their language learning products.  Only a few libraries remain Rosetta Stone customers, but those who are, take note of the following:

Your patrons were getting tagged through the product you offered to them and then spammed with ads to promote the complete Rosetta Stone set.

Are you okay with that? Does this violate your library’s privacy or confidentiality policy? Does it violate information you provide library users about what information is being kept about them when they use library services? My guess is yes.

“Now Sarah,” you might ask, “Why are you saying ‘were’?”

Because now that they got caught, Rosetta Stone says they’ve stopped. I think.

In response to my press inquiry, I received a perfectly pleasant email from Christophe Pralong, Rosetta Stone Director for Higher Education and Learning.

The TL;DR version of his response is “Well yes, now that you mention it, library users might have picked these wicked little marketing monsters up, but we’ve now removed them from all library-specific pages. So now it’s all cool, right bro?”

Below is a screenshot of the email response I received:

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Right. So.

First, “re-marketing pixels” work the same as cookies, so as much as Rosetta Stone wants to sanitize the language describing what they do to users, they are marking people in a supposedly safe digital library environment. Not cool.

Second, did it not occur to anyone at Rosetta Stone that library users will be using sign-on pages, and as a result, those “re-marketing pixels” will be tagging them just as they tag all the other users? And that, as might be expected, librarians might be a tad bit pissed off about this?

Third, “all library-specific pages” only? Does that mean that a general log-in page still has the tracking “re-marketing pixels”?

My library does not subscribe to Rosetta Stone. We could not afford it, and frankly it’s a poor value for what you have to pay.  I’m really rather glad, right now, that we are not customers.

If your library does subscribe, however, here’s my three-fold suggestion:

  1. Talk to whoever you have to in your organization to inform them that this problem occurred.
  2. Send a letter of concern/complaint from your organization to Rosetta Stone, stating your feelings about you library users being tagged and marketed to by the very company you’re already paying.
  3. Inform your patrons of what happened and apologize, because ultimately we as librarians are responsible for the actions, good and bad, of the companies whose products we thrust into our patrons’ hands.

dadrm_2014_block

Today is International Day Against DRM!  On this day, people and organizations around the world come together to proclaim “hell no!” to Digital Rights Management (AKA Digital Restrictions Management). Learn more about the day and how to take action, small ones and big ones, on the Defective by Design website.

And here’s the neat part (to win over librarian hearts). Publishers are participating by offering DRM-free media at a substantial discount:

Why, as a librarian, am I vehemently opposed to digital rights management? Oh, let me count the reasons why:

  • Consumers, and libraries by extension, should have the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software we choose.
  • DRM inhibits the free exchange of ideas, literature, and information.
  • As customers, we are entitled to be treated with respect and not as potential criminals. If you buy a physical version of a song or movie, you are warned about the law, but generally trusted to follow it. If you buy a digital version, however, the DRM code forces compliance.
  • I am concerned about the future of access to digital information that is locked down with proprietary software or formats.
  • Right now, libraries are coming down on the wrong side of this debate—not the side of content delivery, accessibility, and customer service, like we should. We should be demanding DRM-free digital content from all vendors. Instead, we limit content to a select group of our users.
  • Oh, did I mention DRM doesn’t even work? An 8 year old can break it faster than you can say “noooooooo!”

Librarians have cared about access to digital content since digital content was invented. We have worked to educate staff and customers. We have asked for leadership from our professional organizations in legislating change or working with the Librarian of Congress to make effective changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Are you a believer? Check out the Librarians Against DRM and Readers Against DRM graphics (designed by cartoonist and QuestionCopyright.org artist-in-residence Nina Paley). 

Should you be against digital rights management? That’s up to you. If you believe in the role libraries play as preservationists of our cultural heritage, then yes. I believe you should be anti-DRM. If you believe that information should be freely accessible to all and not dependent on devices, software, or versioning, then yes. I believe you should be anti-DRM. But you know, it’s up to you and everything. o.O

ALA_Icon_180x180_BThis week, May 1-7, is Choose Privacy Week. This is the fifth year of Choose Privacy Week (w00t!) and this national public awareness campaign is close to my heart.

It’s trying to make people more aware of their personal privacy, what’s being tracked, and what they can do to prevent it.  And we in libraries don’t like tracking one bit, now do we?  This week was established by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (no surprise there).

Today I attended a great webinar: Defense Against the Digital Dark Arts, put together by ALA and full of awesome information about how to protect personal information, avoid surveillance, use secure and safe services, and protect your library patrons if you do work in library.  It’s archived and should be posted within a week for those of you who missed it (totally worth it).

The Choose Privacy website has a great list of resources for libraries and patrons (print some out now and/or link to them from your library’s website and social media).  NOW, I said!  This includes a quick PDF one-pager on library privacy for library records that pretty much any library could print and hand out to people.

In addition, the 2014 ALA Privacy Tool Kit is now online and includes a true treasure trove of privacy-protecting information and tips, including checklists for what various staff and stakeholders should do to ensure library information is being kept private and safe.  Hopefully your library has a privacy policy already, and if not–this toolkit will help you craft one.  And really…if you don’t have one, you need to get on that. For real.

So happy Choose Privacy Week everyone! Choose privacy, security, and down with surveillance and the NSA! (ooh, that’ll get me back on a naughty list won’t it?)

But You Don't Look SickMay is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  I will always have it. It doesn’t go away.

So, each May, I try to assist in raising awareness of this relatively rare genetic disorder. You can read my posts from previous years (20092011, 2012, 2013) for details on what EDS is and how it has affected my life.  In short, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder. My body makes bad collagen–super stretchy, slow to bounce back, slow to heal. And wouldn’t you know it, but collagen is all over your body–skin, internal organs, tendons, ligaments.

What is it like to live with EDS? I am doing better now than ever. Fortunately, each year seems to get better as I get stronger, exercise more, and treat my joints gently.  But the truth is that I still live every day in pain. Every joint in my body hurts, all the time. My spine and wrists are the worst. My elbows are relatively pain-free.  But I get weirdo random dislocations on an ongoing basis. I freaked out the poor boyfriend a few months ago when 30 seconds into a foot massage, the cuboid bone in my right foot dislocated (yes, it freaking hurt).  A couple of weeks ago I dislocated a vertebrae worse than I’ve ever done before…the vertebrae pushed forward into my body about 1/2″.  It’s still there, still out, still too painful to go to a chiropractor to get it popped back in. I was laid up in bed for 2 days. And how did I dislocate my vertebrae? I was standing up from my desk at work. That’s how random the dislocations are.

Besides the dislocations, the ongoing day to day symptoms are just something I and other EDS-sufferers learn to live with. Chronic joint pain, bruising easily, not being able to sit still comfortably,  taking forever to heal from cuts or bruises, having messed up digestion all the time, having an inordinate number of allergies and chemical sensitivities, and trouble being properly anesthetized (try waking up during a surgery or suddenly un-numbing during a root canal).  You just learn to deal, eventually.

There is no cure for EDS. There is research going on and the first ever center for Ehlers-Danlos research is due to open in August at Towson Hospital’s Genetics Program in Baltimore.  I’m thrilled with this progress!

I am still  off of all pain medications and play to remain so for the rest of my life.

I’m asking for understanding and awareness. If you see people, especially children, in your life who dislocate joints, have chronic pain, digestion issues, heart problems, or who bruise or cut easily–ask the doctor about EDS. Since I went public with my diagnosis in 2009, I’ve had a few dozen blog readers come to me and say they or a family member have now been diagnosed with EDS after reading my post, recognizing symptoms, and asking their doctors. And that’s why you have to suffer through my annual May post about EDS.

To learn more about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, check out the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation and the Ehlers-Danlos Network.

404dayJoin the Electronic Frontier Foundation (and me) tomorrow, April 4th, for 404 Day — a nationwide call to action against internet censorship in libraries and schools.  The EFF has partnered with the MIT Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship to provide a digital teach-in which I will be a part of.

The digital teach-in will be from noon-1pm PST (3-4pm EST). Speakers include yours truly as well as Deborah Caldwell-Stone (Director of Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association) and Chris Peterson (MIT’s Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship).  EFF’s April Glaser is moderating. We’ll discuss banned websites, filtering software, legal challenges, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, and more. You’ll be able to find a link to the event, a Google Hangout, on EFF’s site prior to the event. The teach-in has its own Google+ event page up now.

It’s rare that I get to speak about something that reminds me of why I became a librarian. Talking about censorship does just that.  For more on 404 Day, see EFF’s blog post.  And if you yourself want to blog tomorrow for 404 Day, sharing your own stories and thoughts, email april@eff.org to spread the word about your post.

greglucasEarlier this week, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Greg Lucas as the new California State Librarian.  The appointment requires state senate confirmation, which has not happened yet.

Lucas is not a librarian, nor has he ever (per information readily available online) worked in a library, volunteered for a library, served on a library Board or Commission, or…well…had any involvement with libraries at all. So what has Lucas done? He was a political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and more recently has been a political blogger.

My Own Reaction

My initial response on social media was in line with that of many librarians:

“California’s new State Librarian isn’t a librarian. What in the hell, governor?”

After the initial outcry, there was a backlash of people telling those of us with grumpy faces to hold on and stay positive. The positive push included things like: Let’s be welcoming, assume he’s amazing and will do great things for us because he’s politically connected, and not criticize the choice–at least not publicly.

I stopped for a moment and reconsidered my position. Could a political blogger be a good State Librarian? Yes, of course he could. I don’t have a positive or negative impression of Mr. Lucas because I know next to nothing about him.  Here’s what I do know: he’s 55, has a Bachelor’s in Communications from Stanford and a Masters in Professional Writing from USC. His grandfather is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas. His wife is Donna Lucas, who runs a political public relations firm that has historically worked with conservatives. I know that he signs off most of his Tweets with “xoxox,” and Tweeted on February 24th (his second-to-last Tweet before his appointment): “Never let academics stand in the way of your education, supposedly said Mark Twain.”  Right. OK. Perhaps not the best thing to say right before you walk the gauntlet of a large state’s worth of librarians.

We have heard nothing from Lucas or the Governor’s office about what qualifications, experience, or personal qualities Lucas possesses that made Brown tap him for this appointment. No library experience and no experience running a large, complex organization spells trouble to me as a hiring manager. This, even more than his lack of an MLIS, is what bothers me.

That being said, as many have pointed out in discussions on Lucas’s qualifications the California State Education Code states:

19302. The division shall be in charge of a chief who shall be a technically trained librarian and shall be known as the “State Librarian.”

Apparently the Governor’s office doesn’t think that’s a problem.  Following up on the super brief press release on the appointment and the immediate biblioshitstorm that followed, Evan Westrup (spokesperson for the Governor’s office) said Lucas’s appointment was in keeping with the law and that Lucas “will be pursuing additional technical training through San Jose State University’s library science program in the months ahead.”

Even if you read “technically trained librarian” as not necessarily meaning an MLIS, how exactly is Lucas a technically trained librarian, and/or how can he become one in short order while simultaneously serving as, and getting paid as, the State Librarian? And what precisely will he be doing at SJSU? Getting his MLIS? Taking only an introductory class? There’s a wide swath of possibilities here, ranging from encouraging to disturbing.

Any negative feelings I have about this appointment are not directed at Lucas whatsoever. They are directed at Brown for either a lack of understanding of the operations of the State Library and the position of State Librarian or for a lack of explaining the magical rainbows and unicorns thought process in his head that lead him to this decision.

In my humble opinion the State Librarian should be a librarian.

And being welcoming to Lucas is not mutually exclusive with questioning his suitability for the post, lacking any substantial information from either him or the Governor’s office.

California Librarians’ Reactions

In the days since the initial announcement, California librarian social media and listservs have been aflutter with questions, arguments, concerns, and cheerleaders for Lucas’s appointment. Many people talked about the century-plus length of time it’s been since California’s state librarian was not a librarian (the last one was James L. Gillis, appointed in 1899). Many brought up the advantages of having a Sacramento insider as the mouthpiece for California libraries. There has been discussion that an unknown number of California librarians were contacted by the Governor’s office regarding the position, and anecdotally at least, they turned down the position.

The most productive contribution came from the folks encouraging those stimulated to action by the appointment to also be advocates for three key library legislative issues in California right now–a statewide library broadband initiative, a bill to lower the voter threshold for bond and special taxes for libraries, and a bill for a new library construction bond. Note: I have written a multitude of letters on all three and asked my Board of Trustees, Friends of the Library, and Library Foundation Board members to do the same.

California Library Association’s Reaction

Individual librarian opinion aside, I was waiting to hear what the California Library Association had to say. I should stop for a moment and note that I am not a CLA member, nor is my library an institutional member. The reasons for that are long and involved and aren’t totally relevant here. But, as a California librarian and library director, I feel that CLA’s response speaks for me in public, for better or worse.

CLA response was mixed and confusing.  We saw the first CLA response in an article published on March 25th:

Rosario Garza, the executive director of the California Library Assn., also said the post should be filled by a librarian. “It’s a complex world and we are facing a lot of challenges,” Garza said.

The following day, March 26th, Deborah Doyle, the President of CLA, sent a message out on CALIX, CLA’s listserv. From that message [excerpts]:

The CLA Board unanimously welcomes a new State Librarian.

While the appointment of Mr. Lucas was unexpected, CLA has had a tradition of working with many State Librarians during its 129-year history and will, we hope, continue to collaborate with the State Library. Mr. Lucas may not have traditional librarian training, but his relationships with California state leaders, as a political writer/reporter/blogger and long-time Sacramento resident, will be of great importance to the work ahead. How fortunate that the State Library staff has broad and deep knowledge of that work.

Now, more than ever, we should be building and strengthening relationships. 

What is CLA’s position? It sounds like, at least privately among California library staff CLA is saying “We welcome and endorse the new State Librarian without questions–so be nice, y’all.” And publicly, in one brief statement CLA is saying “Hey now, the State Librarian should actually be a librarian.” Methinks there are some internal communication breakdowns occurring within CLA. I hope CLA puts out a lengthier and unified public statement soon.

My Final Thoughts

I am disturbed by Brown’s appointment, but will reserve my final judgement until we know more about Lucas and hear directly from him. Hopefully that will happen before his confirmation hearing.

I am equally disturbed that CLA made such a broad statement of acceptance/endorsement without asking the many questions that its members (and non-members) are asking.  What qualifications and qualities does Lucas have that will make him a successful State Librarian? Why was he interested in this position? Does he have any positions on libraries (public, school, academic, special) and the many challenges we’ve faced especially in recent years of budget cuts? What does he plan to do to increase his understanding of the issues facing libraries throughout the state?

As a librarian it’s my job to advocate for my community.  While the State Library does not play into the day to day operations of my library, it affects many big picture issues that affect those operations: state funding, legislative support, grants, and more.  I, for one, am not yet convinced that this appointee is good for my community. I sincerely hope that he is–that he’s the best damned State Librarian we’ve ever seen. But until he is confirmed, I encourage my colleagues in positions of power within the state association and state government to ask the questions that aren’t being asked. Our California communities deserve no less.

I’m pleased to announce that last week we launched a new website for San Rafael Public Library at http://srpubliclibrary.org. The site was designed by Influx with their Prefab library website service. We are very happy with it!

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Our library is relatively small and we don’t have the time or staff brain bandwidth or expertise to design, maintain, troubleshoot, and host a website. We were happy to hire Influx to do this work for us. For very little money a whole lot of pressure and stress has been relieved from our collective library brain.

So far, we’ve gotten some really fabulous feedback from library users, stakeholders, and city government officials.  Take a look, let us know what you think, and check out Influx if you’re looking for a quick, customizable (and yet still ready out-of-the box) website solution!

Shhhh…you’ll wake the librarian.  Whoops, she’s awake.

Despite my reputation for being outspoken, I’ve let several library-world blow-ups fly by of late without comment.  I’ve gotten dozens of requests to write about these issues and have said no. I’ll tell you what I think if you ask, but I’ve stayed out of the fray intentionally.

Why so quiet? Over the years, multiple significant others have said to me: “When you get quiet, that’s when I know something’s really wrong.” They’re absolutely right. It’s not petulant pouting; it’s me afraid that if I open my mouth I will: a) scream, b) cry, c) berate you so hard you’ll feel like you just got beaten with a broom handle by Frank Underwood.

In short, me being quiet means that I’m so beyond mad about something that I don’t even want to talk about it yet because I cannot do so in a productive manner.  Remember that video of me getting all huffy about Amazon and OverDrive’s anti-privacy partnership?  That took me over a month of mental processing and about 20 takes to calm down enough to record.  And even then, I still get all “RAWR – kill all of the things!” during the video.

Though I’ve been quiet about a lot lately, there are two large-ish issues I’d like to bring up — particularly why I haven’t written about them.  It’s the same damn reason in both cases. I’m disappointed in the members of our profession who choose to express themselves in unproductive, negative, and hostile ways.

The ALA Conference Code of Conduct

  • My reaction: I was happy that ALA codified something that was already, more or less, included in various other long-standing statements of conduct, values, and ethics. My blog post on professional harassment was part of a long catalog of pieces that apparently started the avalanche of opinion that such a code is needed by ALA. I was happy that something I’d written had helped contribute to a large-scale positive outcome. Is the code perfect? Of course not. It, like everything else on this blasted planet, is a living and changeable beast. Something really good, however, is much better than nothing at all.
  • The library-world reaction: I expected a little bit of pushback on this from people in denial of the problem, but I did not expect the infantile backlash that happened. People said that the code could curb freedom of speech. People said that it was addressing a problem that didn’t really exist.  People said that only a few women were harassed, so why create a code to deal with only a few victims. Oh yeah, and all of these “people” saying this stuff? People from the librarian profession. I’m not even going to link to the many, many reactions on all sides to the code because, well, because of what I write next.
  • My reaction to that reaction: Disappointed Sarah is disappointed in her peers. I am disappointed in the pettiness of some in our profession, the blinders many people have on to the diverse experiences of others, and the desire of some to tear anything and everything down–no matter how much good it can do–because, in their minds, it’s not perfect.  I am also beyond raging that people would doubt the word of many, many people who have been harassed at conferences. We’re talking about a lot of people here, a lot of experiences, and a lot of anger and grief that could be avoided in part if we had a code of conduct to deal with such situations. Will the code prevent all potential harassment or assault? No, of course not. No written document can. But it can deter that behavior, and for that I’m glad. I’m glad the code exists.  The haters can go sit in a corner and wax poetic about their delusional reality where no one is harassed and everyone is equal all the time, and leave the rest of us to deal with reality–dirty and imperfect as it is.

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

  • My reaction: Cool! Look at that, librarians look like people. Go figure. And hey–a mainstream photo essay featuring librarians in a positive light. And one that’s getting a lot of traffic! Big props to the photographer too, Kyle Cassidy, for taking some beautiful photographs and capturing our profession in a non-stereotypical, non-inflammatory, non-hypersexualized way. Yay!
  • The library-world reaction: Not every demographic was fairly represented in that small sampling of photos! Too many people looked this way, or that way! Not enough people looked this other way! I hate this particular person who was featured! I hate this person, therefore the value of the entire photo essay is negated! I wasn’t photographed, therefore this is stupid! Why do we need photographs to represent a profession that is so pure and idealistic that we should be able to represent ourselves through theremin music and laser shows alone!
  • My reaction to that reaction: Fucking Hell. Some people will take every good thing and make it look like a steaming pile of rat dung. This was popular media coverage of our profession, which we will mostly agree is underappreciated and underrepresented. The public reaction to it was good, for goodness sake! Our reaction to ourselves, however, was shameful. To everyone who posted hateful comments about the way that the featured librarians looked, what they were wearing, or their gender or ethnicity–Shame on you. Instead of tearing something down, try building it up. Offer productive feedback on how to extend the project and make it more in keeping with what you personally think is important. But don’t destroy a photographer with pure intentions (who even wrote a follow-up piece about the Twilight Zone-esque backlash).  Don’t destroy subjects who love our profession (even though you may not like them all as individuals) and who are willing to put themselves out there in the public spotlight to raise awareness about what we do.

In short, I didn’t want to write about these because anything I was infuriated with my fellow librarians. And besides, anything I wanted to say was already being said by others.  But I come away from these two incidents with a mantra that a former manager of mine used to repeat to us at project meetings: “You can criticize something, but do so politely and offer solutions for how to make it better–don’t just tear it down.”

So, all of you librarians out there: you may have valid points and you may have good arguments about why something is imperfect. But be professional enough and smart enough to do more than tear something down–contribute to a solution. Until you’re able to do that, shut your talking holes. You’re hurting my ears and making me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. [which, incidentally, is why I choose not to write when I'm angry--see the connection?]

I’m going to go over here into the corner and resume my quietness now, and try to make the world of my own library and community a better place.

I’ve been getting a weird rash of people asking what conferences I’ll be at over the next several months (no…I’m not going to ALA Midwinter or Computers in Libraries). But I am going physically (or virtually) to some other places coming up. Come say hi if you’re there too!

  • January 15 – Wild Winter Web Conference (online conference for Wisconsin libraries) ["Keep It Real, Keep It Simple"]
  • March 13-15, 2014 – Public Library Association Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana ["Filtering out Internet Censorship: Advocacy, Professional Ethics, and the Law" panel and "So You Want to Be a Director: Fleas, Death Threats, Budget Cuts, and Prison Wardens"]
  • April 11, 2014 – Urban Librarians Conference, Brooklyn, New York ["Rise of the Youngsters: A Gen X and Millennial Management Team" (with Vanessa Christman)]
  • May 9, 2014 – Joint Conference of the Maryland and Delaware Library Associations, Ocean City, Maryland ["Future of Libraries"]
  • June 26-July 1, 2014 – American Library Association Annual Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada ["Stepping into the Director Role: Preparing for the Part" panel and "Technology Priorities for the New Library Reality"]