Sign on ship "Dauntless"
The snow covered sign and bollards of HMS Dauntless.
HMNB Portsmouth received a heavy snowfall during the morning of 18th January 2013. It was business as usual for the ships and personnel of the Royal Navy.
Photographer: PO(Phot) Simmo Simpson
Image 45154837.jpg from

The old year, 2017, got away from me. It was my first full year in a new and challenging job. This new year, 2018, I need to write; professionally, to publish; and personally, to chase the art and craft of writing. Words and music and ideas are my muse; procrastination is my torment.

I keep a virtual clippings file of ideas for inspiration, yet they did not move me to action.

Imaging an electron avalanche or book towns.

Reading the oft-quoted Bob Dylan, “A library is an arsenal of liberty.”

Philosophizing on the workplace – about Higher Ed, thank you, Steven Mintz:

In his Confessions, St. Augustine makes a point that well worth bearing in mind during this moment of academic transition and transformation. He declares that loss is an integral and inevitable part of the process of creating the future. Higher education is changing in fundamental ways and something will be lost as it evolves. But something will be gained that doesn’t yet exist. “Semper et deinceps” Augustine proclaims: Always forward, ever onward.

In the manner of needing something more, be it purpose, inspiration, or enlightenment, I will try to provide it to others. This brought me to action.

This idea was articulated eloquently by Akhil Sharma in a recent segment for PBS #IMHO:

Every time I have given help when I have felt I needed it myself, I have had the same sensation, sometimes quickly, sometimes in a little bit. But there is space around me, that I have more options than I think.

It is generosity which reminds us we’re more than our problems.

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Metaphors and the library conference


USCGC_Eagle_honors_200th_anniversary_of_national_anthem_140913-G-BN626-001I am one of the lucky ones – librarians attending ACRL2017 in Baltimore, MD.

A good day at the conference includes intellectual awakenings, powerful fiction and social justice, unplanned conversations, new ideas and eureka moments, new fields to mine for horizontal thinking about libraries, conversations with friends and support.

Spatial metaphors about libraries and archives sparked my imagination with the poetry of language in Shannon Mattern‘s presentation to begin the day.

[I must go back and study the slides and ideas that garnered a lot of twitter chat: Resilience, Grit, and Other Lies: Academic Libraries and the Myth of Resiliency.]

Next up was the keynote of the day, the woman I didn’t know I knew from her clever writing about one of my obsessions, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. See her first post Outlander Series Premiere Recap: A Thoroughly Modern Woman by Roxane Gay. I am enlightened and look forward to reading everything this woman ever wrote. She is an authentic voice, a Midwesterner, a professor and, oh, so much more.

After a quick power lunch, oatmeal, and a lovely conversation about publishing and ebooks; I walked the exhibits, picked up pens, and bought some books which I hope to remember to pick up tomorrow.

The afternoon was insightful with Beyond the Commons: Moving from Co-location and Collaboration to Integration of Learning Services in Academic Libraries. On to my most productive thirty minutes with lightening talks – alas, so many great ideas, so little time.

Next up was The Social Future of Academic Libraries: Emerging Perspectives on Engagement and Intellectual Capital. I am now thinking about social capital, the intangible benefits of engaged librarians, social networking and the strength of weak ties. I have so much to read up on and I haven’t even mentioned the presented papers I have marked for future reading!

Rounding out a most wonderful day at the conference were late afternoon libations with friends and colleagues; a serendipitous meeting with an new library friend and AUL from Stoneybrook, NY and much talk about library management.

At the end of this very long day, I’m sailing home with my handsome spouse. He brought my power cord so I could work late and be prepared for a workshop tomorrow. What a great guy!

I’m a lucky librarian today.

The theme of this year’s conference – At the Helm – keeps me wildly occupied with “Don’t Rock the Boat, Baby” melodic ruminations. I’ll save the leaky rowboat to Titanic metaphors for a later post!


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I picked up my pen

20170104_184340Oh, you know what I mean! I write this blog with my metaphorical pen.

And when my prayers to God were met with indifference
I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance (Still obsessed! by Hamilton)

I offer regrets for not writing regularly. Since October 2016 I have been happily embroiled in old job – new job commotion. It’s been eight weeks now in a new job with lots of new technology and systems to master (oh, yes, that thing about teaching old dogs, oh, never mind, again.) I have new presenting and writing to ready for a new semester. I’m very lucky. But, I miss the time to write and reflect.

Applying for a new job in libraries, and now strategizing for the future of the new job and libraries in general, risk is a word that comes to mind. It is echoed by Lorcan Dempsey as depicted in this blog post from Dr. Kingsley, Libraries of the future, and Lorcan Dempsey’s  slides Evolving Collection Directions.

If “workflow is the new content”, I am going to just do good work!

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The value of “good work”

Photo Perseverance Trail Juneau Alaska

This is a landscape view form the Perseverance Trail outside of Juneau, Alaska. By Andrew E. Russell

I wish I was more eloquent. I want to exhort and inspire and rain down wisdom from the mountaintops that hard work is noble! Being engaged in your work and intellectually curious, and sharing that enthusiasm and knowledge with the world is a noble pursuit.

Luckily, I am not alone in this and others are more eloquent than I. Shanta R. Robinson penned an essay (I like the title!) Just Do Good Work. Dr. Robinson writes of the academic job search – the angst and the advice. Her adviser’s solution, just do good work.

But I think she meant more in this seemingly simple refrain. She pushed me to engage in a topic that interested me and one that could sustain my attention for years to come.

If you are worried about the “How I Made It Stories” that others tell, and thinking it will never happen for you; or fretting over your own work situation, don’t despair. Let us all take the advice and just do good work.



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What keeps this librarian up at night!

Graphic showing reference rot (bad links - from Elsevier, arXiv and PubMed

The graphic shows links from the three STM corpora that were studied (right hand side) to the six top level domains they link to (left hand side). The colored portions shows links that are healthy, the grey portions – by far the largest – show links that are infected by reference rot.

Will humankind be able to build on knowledge of today in 400 years? Will they be able to find older references. It is already difficult. Do we really believe in “perpetual access?”

As a STM reference librarian, I have been asked to find this article – often.

Citation: Briers, J. D. (1993). Holographic, speckle and moiré techniques in optical metrology. Progress in quantum electronics, 17(3), 167-233.

Working with researchers, I get to study their habits. I notice that even the most brilliant faculty and students have trouble finding older articles in STM fields.

In days of yore, they would go to the library stacks and take down the correct dusty volume by journal title, and be able to find an item 20 years old – or older.

Today, they may have a citation from a paper and be able to find the article through searching algorithms, but cannot get to the actual article. Reasons for this lack of access are many ranging from the expense of the access, to a bad citation, or a bad link known as “link rot.”

This article describes “link decoration” – a new term to me – to address “permanent access” to knowledge.

Reference rot in web-based scholarly communication and link decoration as a path to mitigation

By Martin Klein and Herbert Van de Sompel (Please see the original article for linked access in this blockquote.)

Link decoration is a way to address these problems and to increase the chances that links will lead to meaningful content, even a long time after they were put in place. In order to maximize link robustness, the following information should be available, in a machine-actionable manner, for a link:

the URI of the snapshot, in our example
the URI of the original resource, in our example
the datetime of linking, in our example January 21 2015.
The latter two information elements can be used to automatically find snapshots in other web archives in case‘s service is interrupted, and the snapshot becomes inaccessible as a result.

Discussions with interested parties are still underway regarding the best way to convey this information on a link. Until further notice, and for demonstrations purposes, the information is conveyed using HTML5’s attribute extensibility mechanism. Using that approach, this robust link to the W3C home page looks as follows:

<a href=”“
data-versiondate=”2015-01-21?>this robust link to the W3C home page</a>

The Memento Time Travel extension for Chrome makes these link decorations accessible when right-clicking on the link. Try it with a version of the reference list of our above mentioned article in which links to web at large resource were decorated. For more information on link decoration, check out the Robust Links site.

For more on “link rot” please see a Georgetown symposium keynote by Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard Law School titled: Preserving our Digital Trail: A Call to Arms

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Libraries, conferences & perpetual learning

paper, pen & computer

To begin, this is just an aside about why it is important to write up conference experiences and why blog.

This is the heady, humanizing work that happens when you write for general readers. It’s complexity enacted through connections. From Crisis to Composition by Jessica Yood, March 11, 2016.

#CILDC March 9, 2016 Computers in Libraries

There were connections aplenty at #CILDC. I know, I know –  you can learn from keynotes even if they are not inspiring or uplifting! Here are just a few things I learned:

“End users” “patron facing” “lifelong learners” “customer journey map” – what we call people who use libraries is important. There are different definitions of “open” when talking about “open” in a business environment. I think I did know that librarians spend 1/3 time within the library systems and 2/3 time spent outside library systems. I did not know the 14 definitions of library user interfaces metaphors.

Neale, D. C., & Carroll, J. M. (1997). The role of metaphors in user interface design. Handbook of human-computer interaction, 2, 441-462.

I heard this phrase way too much, “meet your patrons where your patrons are.” I do agree that we live in a land of “library silos” and that is way too hard on people who use libraries. I moved on to listening about User Experience UX.


While the idea of one box to search them all – has it’s merits. We need to remember that we all can get lost past that first search results page. When you start with a discovery tool – then screen by screen users need to adjust to new mental input.

Turn Your Web Traffic Into Foot Traffic by Trey Gordner asked the question, could we dispense with too may authentication screens to more immediate access?

Training best practices reminders: vetting session, polls & quizzes throughout, use chat box to take questions, prepare backup options, use tech wing”person” to monitor chat and troubleshoot tech. Market training, take pulse during presentations, and game plan to engage participants. Don’t forget the feedback! See: RAILS and see: Digital Literacy for Staff & Customers.

Millennials in Library: Research Insights & Case Study is a great presentation and I learned about the “sticky influence” of faculty research workflows. I will re-read How Students Research: Implications for the Library and Faculty by Michelle D’Couto , Serena H. Rosenhan, Journal of Library Administration. Vol. 55, Iss. 7, 2015 pp. 562-576.

See also: Brian Gray outlines a Case Western Reserve case study. Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship. Notable notes from this presentation include: “I was afraid to ask.” Service desk changes – holds no longer behind desk, model new public library automated service. Look up: CRM customer relationship management outsourcing software products.

Institutional Repositories

This session outlined differences in two ARL reports on IR’s from 2006 and 2015. What has changed! SPEC Kit 292: Institutional Repositories (July 2006) & SPEC Kit 346: Scholarly Output Assessment Activities (May 2015.)

Big Data

Big Data Meets Algorithmic Accountability: Understanding the New Activism

#CILDC March 10, 2016 Computers in Libraries

Keynote Libraries and Perpetual Learning by Lee Rainie, Pew Research. See also: The Internet of Things & Libraries. This keynote did inspire and coined the phrases “Serve & Learn”, “Be Not Afraid”, and our favorite #librarypixiedust.

Waiting for slides: NIH James King Fostering Collaboration in Research.

STEMex Grants through IMLS

We would like to see project teams make use of the many STEM experts that live in our communities, including academic researchers, hydrologists, dental hygienists, road engineers, art conservators, and many others. These STEM experts are underutilized in both research and programs that occur in informal settings. There is also limited research on children and families working with STEM experts as they engage in the kinds of learning noted on this slide.

My favorite phrase from the whole conference: perpetual learning!

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Passion and the library conference!

The most fun in life is to share experiences and passion! Yesterday I had a chance to twitter converse (is that a thing?) with #CILDC conference attendees about #HamiltonMusical. This was inspired by the presentation E103: Teaching Screenagers in the Land of Click, Slide, and Touchscreen by Joquetta Johnson.

How timely! I am preparing a presentation on digital scholarship and have been riffing (to myself) inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man, the genius who has brought us the Broadway musical Hamilton. I am inspired that the musical was generated by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The musical soundtrack is a work of high art. The annotated lyrics are available with research notes. The social media brilliance of cast and crew is evident with #Ham4Ham videos. NOW they have an educational program!

(in progress…imagine the spellchecker going bonkers) Are you an age of #HamiltonMusical digital scholar? Do you drop knowledge? Can you connect artifact, manuscript, monograph, article, multimedia, and social media to spark creative revolution and revelation. Are you a computer-coded, digitized, mobilized information professional? Are your ideas footnoted, dissertated, essayed, prosed, conversated, posterated, blogviated and oral presentated? Do you tell truth to power through music, dance, arts or labs? Talk less, smile more. Do you have what it takes to be a #HamiltonMusical digital scholar?

Can we get back to the conference, please! Computers in Libraries 2016 Day 1 is from my desk. Library staffing is an issue these days. Lucky for us, this conference streamed the Day 1 keynote address by Dave Snowden. Excellent! Worth the watch! Innovation and the Knowledge Ecosystem by Dave Snowden, Founder and CSO, Cognitive Edge.

Thanks to Jill Hurst-Wahl for her useful notes from sessions I wish I attended. Digitization 101: CILDC : Advanced Twitter: Research Tips for Power Users and CILDC : Super Searcher Tools and Tips and CILDC : Advanced Twitter: Research Tips for Power Users. 

I will go back to 30 Mobile Apps in 40 Minutes by Gary Price.

Best find of the day:

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#hamilton and education

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Snow days of reading

Oh, how I shovelled (see spelling rules here) and worried during the great #blizzard2016; #snowzilla (as branded by the Washington Post!)

I had hours of blissful reading, too!

I was in the middle of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, inspired by #Hamilton the musical which I can’t stop listening. I had lovely novels just whispering to me to open, and I succumbed. Take a break – I promise I will get back to you, Alexander.



Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian is a skeezy story, suburban Dad with wife and daughter caught up with Eastern European sex trade and murder in his front room. This book is saved by the author with good writing and the humanity of all characters.

The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee is set in Hong Kong. It tells the stories of women, as the OED cites a usage of the term in 1918 “Patriots and expatriates are alike the children of circumstances.” Beautifully written. I want to re-read this one.

River Road by Carol Goodman is a story set in update New York of small town and college collisions – literally. The snowy landscape fit the mood; the academic interactions rang true; and story of death and grief in many forms is saved by good writing and plot twists.

One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems by Paul Muldoon. Snow and time to think call for some poetry. This is a new author (to me) and the poems are intricate and interwoven – constructed over short stanzas to tell deep stories.

One Thousand Things Worth Knowing confirms Nick Laird’s assessment, in The New York Review of Books, that Muldoon is “the most formally ambitious and technically innovative of modern poets,” an experimenter and craftsman who “writes poems like no one else.” GoodReads review

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg may take another snowstorm to do it justice. I have only begun reading this title. Good to know I am not alone in looking up Latin references  and words:

Sentence after sentence is dressed up with flourishes of diction and description, often with word choices that require research. On page 12, a character is abandoned by his boyfriend on Christmas. “But Solitas radix malorum est, Mercer would think later, looking back. . . . There was something eschatological about the weak afternoon light, made weaker by the tree, and the layer of soot that coated the window, and about the chill blown through the crack he’d left open.” If you don’t have to look up the Latin, you may have to refresh your memory as to how light and chill might be eschatological. Marian Winick 

Yet, I’m pulled right back in by p. 14:

It was if the universe was trying to teach him some lesson. The challenge, he guessed, was to refuse to learn.

I’m in love with Charlie by p. 19. This one will take me longer to read than my usual four pages a night reading while working! Here is the NY Times review.

Thanks #snowzilla. I love to read.

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A day with OCLC!

It is always good to get away from the desk, see a bigger library perspective and have time to reflect on library practices. It is even better when there is information shared and discussions with colleagues from many different libraries. OCLC began Member Forums last year to “contribute to the library cooperative.” This year in Washington DC, hosted by the Library of Congress, the member forum began with an evocative keynote by Lynn Connaway, “Transitioning the Library into the Users’ Environment.”

215506_Research-Report-Cover-Library-Life-User-1The keynote was developed from OCLC research and lucky for attendees we did get our own copy of the October 2015 report The Library in the Life of the User: Engaging with people Where They Live and Learn.

Research done in 2001 by Mark Perensky Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants details technology users (and the impact of their technology use on libraries) by generations. The 2015 OCLC research invites us to think more broadly. It asks us to think of all of our library users on a spectrum as visitors (those who use/think of the Internet as a tool) through residents (those who use/think of the Internet as a place.) Much of this research is shared on a JISC web site (see V&R videos.) More articles detailing the idea of library users as visitors or residents are available on the OCLC research site Digital Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment?

Things I knew that Ms. Connaway reported users said – email is an old person’s means of communication (how else should we be communicating with our users?) Convenience trumps all. Facebook is a “time vortex.” Wikipedia is the 6th most used web site in the United States. And our undergraduate students often say “I always use Google or ask my [insert parent here] (HINT: father gives you information/mother wants to teach you how to do it.)”

Recommended: If you haven’t seen this one (and who knew OCLC had a YouTube channel?)- Millennials in Transition

 Take aways from keynote: Establish a relationship, recognize need for convenience, concentrate on graduate students, and take what OCLC has learned and use it locally.

Ideas during first break out session included shared collection development ideas, the growth of collaborative technical services, and the merging of circulation and reference services.

Virtual reference, a discussion we are having at our library, was mentioned often during the day. Lynn Connaway recommended thinking of triggered chat sessions. See this article : Jan H. Kemp, Carolyn L. Ellis, Krisellen Maloney, Standing By to Help: Transforming Online Reference with a Proactive Chat System, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 41, Issue 6, November 2015, Pages 764-770, ISSN 0099-1333, See this example of some best practices in virtual reference from UTSA Libraries.

Best practices in Virtual Reference as detailed in the above article:

1) provide help at the time it is needed placing the chat widget on multiple pages and prompting users to ask questions

2) use an “active” method to promote chat, including a positive slogan such as “we want to help you”

3) use a relatively large image for the chat widget along with text to attract attention

4) use a pop up widget to offer help proactively

5) label the chat widget so users know a real librarian (trained professional) will be answering the questions

What’s new, what’s changed with OCLC?

A short history lesson reminded us that OCLC began in 1967, the first catalog card was produced in 1971 and the last catalog card was produced in October 2015. WorldShare is being built to combine all OCLC services on one platform. Eventually all OCLC functions will move to this platform for Resource Sharing, ILL, Cataloguing and Discovery (tools like Connexion and First Search will be phased out eventually.) Priorities for the next year include an investment in technology infrastructure globally and efforts in Linked Data. (See Linked Data for Libraries.) Shared Collection resources like Sustainable Collections Services is something WRLC is invested in early!

New to me: A Bluebook Guide for Law Students; triggered chat popups for proactive virtual reference;  request access to WorldShare Discovery for when FirstSearch is finished by Fall 2016.

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