Another successful TLA Conference

Another successful TLA Conference

The rest of the #txla15 conference was a blast. I made some great connections for what we hope will be a second year for ‘Bots and Books. I didn’t go on Friday because I couldn’t stand to be away from my kids for another day. So Thursday night was my big finale with the Book Cart Drill Team Competition and the Storytelling Concert. Couldn’t have ended on a better note, really. Although my phone was practically dead, I did manage to get videos from both. Here you go!

The Capital Funk Crew from Austin ISD

The Bibliophiles from Austin Public Library

The Bee Side Story from Bee Cave Public Library

The Hip Hop Librarians from Round Rock ISD

The Database Darlings from Texas State University

And finally, the male prairie chickens at the Storytelling Concert provided much entertainment while dancing to Lucas Miller’s Prairie Chicken Boogie.

I used to plan political and fundraising events for a living. Even weddings when I had to. *shudders at the memory* I was one of many who worked on the Presidential Debate when one took place in Austin back in 2008. And I cannot image how much work goes into making such a big conference run so smoothly. There were some issues with the app, but I can honestly say that was the biggest problem I saw, though I did not spend a lot of time in the exhibits or in the author sessions. The Austin Convention Center has some serious design flaws, but it is really the only venue in town. I think the last numbers I heard were that we were 33 people short of 8,000 attendees! The staff of the Texas Library Association did good work!

As usual, my brain will be on overdrive for weeks with all of the wonderful information I discovered. But I made sure to have a slow weekend before getting back to prepping for my Customer Service workshop.

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‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

‘Bots & Books: Using Robots to Talk About Books in Public Libraries

Bots and Books Logo

In September of last year I look over administering a grant called ‘Bots and Books which provides equipment and training for libraries to begin robotics programming. We purchased LEGO Robotics WeDo kits and laptops for the libraries. Four trainings were held in different areas of the state where we distributed the equipment and provided training on using and maintaining the LEGO kits. We also provided a book-based curriculum that creates challenges from popular children’s titles such as James and the Giant Peach and the Avengers to be solved using the robotics kits.

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I have been so proud to work on this grant. Robotics is growing so much in popularity and is a great way to increase access to STEM activities. Schools have been using these for a while but public libraries are really just beginning to realize how we can fill the STEM gap for our communities, too.

We are currently in the application process for year two and I am very hopeful! I also started writing up a proposal while sitting in a session at the TLA Annual Conference for a whole session on robotics for the 2016 conference. I hope we can bring together those libraries that already have robust robotics programs to educate others.

5 Steps to Marketing Library Services Using Social Media

5 Steps to Marketing Library Services Using Social Media

Today I gave my presentation on marketing library services using social media at the Texas Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference in Austin. For some reason, the app was not making the slides available so I wanted to make them available here and below. Please let me know if you have anything to add or any questions!

#TXLA15: Day One Reflections

#TXLA15: Day One Reflections

Sitting on the floor on level four of the Austin Convention Center, I am waiting for the exhibits to open and wanted to reflect on what I have learned today. It has been a pretty good day though it has had some infuriating moments.

My first panel was You have your degree, now what? Planning a rewarding career. The Brainy Librarian presided over the session that was led in part by former ALA President Maureen Sullivan. Members of the panel were Carol Diedrichs, Director of University Libraries at Ohio State, Miguel Figueroa of ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries, Sara Lestrange who is Manager of Communications in the Office of the Dean of Students at UT,  and digital lawyer librarian Gretchen McCord. The panel was diverse in their backgrounds and provided some great information on career planning and job seeking. The best points I took away from it were:

  • Miguel admitted to being an unsuccessful librarian, not having spent a lot of time actually working in a library. He spends his time looking at trends in retail and hospitality and then thinking on how we can put those to practice in the library. He stressed bringing that “other world experience” to the MLS table such as being a child of a single mother or drawing on your past retail experience. I appreciated this as I feel like I discount myself in my current position because I don’t have any paid library work under my belt.
  • Carol Diedrichs also stressed this point and encouraged us to talk about our personal self in job interviews suggesting that it adds value that we could bring.
  • Sara Lestrange, not coming from a library background, gave some wonderful tips on self-branding, resume writing, and managing your online presence in the job search. More on her later…
  • Gretchen told of her career journey so far. She never expected to be a librarian or an attorney. But she followed her passion as it evolved, relaxed, and cast her fate to the wind. This really spoke to me as I am in an odd place in my own career, not really fitting into any of the “normal “categories of librarianship. I always check the “Special” or “Other” box.

After lunch was when it started to take a turn. Only Carol and Sara joined us for the last half. I was very disappointed in the way Maureen Sullivan treated Sara. She cut her short many times saying she wanted to hear from Carol because these people (meaning those attending the session) were “behind where Sara was in her suggestions”. She was suggesting that the tips Sara was giving such as not using Word for creating our resumes, putting their Hogwarts house on their resume, and getting rid of resume objectives was ahead of the library field. Sara talked about wage theft, the phenomenon where people (most of the time, women) work far more than they are paid for because they volunteer for things. Maureen brought it up later in the program suggesting that it was not a phenomenon in professional fields. And when attendees were asking questions that seemed to be of interest to the group, she kept wanting to force the discussion in another direction.

I was pretty angry as were others sitting at my table. I tweeted to Sara that we were most certainly NOT behind where Sara was in her suggestions. I was embarrassed that a libraryland outsider was treated as such at our conference.

It is that kind of thinking that makes me infuriated with librarians. No wonder we are so misunderstood as a profession! Grrr… anyway, back to the day.

The next panel was a dry-as-bones how-to on using Google Analytics. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t learn from a tutorial most likely, though the presenter did talk a little about how Texas Tech (his institution) uses the information gathered by Google Analytics. It was informative though. We use the tool at work and I wanted to know more about it.

The next session was You Are Not An Imposter: Finding Confidence as a Library Professional. Though I disagreed with the way they spelled impostor, I was really looking forward to this one as I have been experiencing a lot of this lately. It was also informative, though didn’t have much information specifically about librarianship. It more defined impostor syndrome, gave a list of the most common traits, and gave tips on how best to deal with those issues. The more I know about this phenomenon, the more comfortable I feel at my current place in my career.

That let out earlier than expected so I ducked into another session and started participating in a Battle of the Bluebonnet Books game. I was rather proud to hold 3rd place even if for a very short time!

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My last session of the day was Truth Be Told: Front Line Stories on Dealing with the Public. I turned down two other sessions of interest to go to this because it was pitched as customer service. I am working on a customer service workshop for a library in a month and I wanted to have relevant and timely information to discuss. The presenter read two stories that had been submitted and then attendees talked about them. Though I heard some very interesting and humorous stories about vomit in the book drop, turning tricks in the public library, and trafficking drugs using library books, it was not what I had envisioned and I was very disappointed.  Me? I read poetry about librarians instead. The other panels I wanted to go to were on the other side of the convention center. I never would have made it in time to make a difference.

This brings us to now. I am waiting for the exhibits and the #kidlit meet up at Champions to start in about an hour. I don’t want to leave the impression that I haven’t loved the first day of TLA. Reflecting has made me realize that I was bugged about a couple of things more than I realized, though. Perhaps I will see if there is a channel for discussing these kinds of problems through TLA.

For now, I am going to listen to Brené Brown’s TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability as suggested by Nickolas Means, the presenter of the impostor syndrome session.

The ALA Banned Books Poster Debacle

The ALA Banned Books Poster Debacle

Via the American Library Association store

There it is. The poster that sparked some major outrage. Library Juice has called it Islamaphobic stating,

Clearly, the image links suppression of information with the religion of Islam, depicting a woman whose eyes are showing through her niqab. No one denies that there is suppression of information in a number of countries where Islam is the national religion, but this image implies an identity between the religion and the practice of censorship. I think most of us can think of some American muslims who would take offense at that. Perhaps they are even members of the American Library Association.

There is also a petition to have it removed from the ALA store that states,

This poster uses undeniably Islamophobic imagery of a woman in  traditional Muslim clothing.  It should be removed immediately from the ALA Graphics store, and the ALA Graphics Store and Office of Intellectual Freedom should apologize and explain how they will prevent using unethical imagery in the future.

Let the ALA leadership and Graphics Store know that this poster violates the ALA Code of Ethics, represents libraries and librarians as discriminatory and non-inclusive, and must be removed immediately.

I have seen so many widely varying ideas about this image. Some people see a woman wearing a niqab. Some see a woman looking through a Do Not Enter sign.

Unfortunately, I did not see the poster outside of the debate so I cannot say what I would have thought of it on its own. What I can say is that I don’t care for the term “Readstricted” as it trips my eyes up. I had to say it aloud a couple of times to make it work for my eyes. And I would have chosen a different color for the cover of the book. But those are design issues.

As Agnostic, Maybe points out, the ALA store is also selling a downloadable poster that you can edit to put yourself in the image. Seeing it this way certainly does change the image for me quite a bit. It is more obviously a Do Not Enter sign.

Overall, the big issue seems to be intent. What were they trying to do here? If the intent was as speculated, then many are wondering how many saw this in production and how no one thought this might be a bad idea. Perhaps it was just a design blunder?

And if the intent was as speculated, then the statement is that having access to books information can transform and enlighten. I suppose it is a question of what you feel it means to be enlightened. That is a much bigger discussion for another time. I am not a member of the community in question so I don’t feel I have the right to be offended for them.

Since I began writing this (also trying to get ready for #txla15), the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has released a statement on the matter. Here it is:

We are aware of the comments about this year’s poster for Banned Books Week. We appreciate and respect the concern expressed by the commenters on behalf of the individuals and communities served by their libraries, as well as the concern expressed for the association’s work on behalf of diversity and intellectual freedom.

We take to heart any distress we may have inadvertently caused anyone. The poster was never intended to offend or shock, nor was there any intent to include any ethnic or cultural stereotypes. The aim of the campaign is to employ the universal signage for “Do Not Enter” – a red circle with a bar across it – as a visual proxy for book censorship. It is not a head covering.

We attempted to embrace diversity by including a person of color – which, combined with the graphic elements of the design, appears to have contributed to the multiple perceptions of the poster. It is especially unfortunate that a poster meant to embrace diversity has raised concerns about possible stereotyping and offense.

Commenters have shared how the image evokes a burqa or a niqab. This simply did not occur to us as the design for the poster developed. Our design team included a Muslim woman who wears traditional dress. She was enthusiastic about the campaign and the poster design and we were pleased to work with her on it. We have shared the comments with her and she is surprised that the poster has been interpreted as traditional Muslim dress.

We have read and carefully considered all the feedback. We will be exploring alternatives and our future course of action in the coming week with the goal of reaching a resolution that responds to members’ concerns and upholds the values of our association and the profession. We will continue to engage in the robust exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of our values.

As always, our goal for Banned Books Week is to highlight the harms of censorship and to promote the freedom to read for all.

So they do plan to take some action. But, again, Agnostic, Maybe asks a very important question… if they do respond to the petition and the outcry, how does this look for our national figurehead’s response to censorship?

What do you see? What do you think? I will update when their action has been announced over the next few days.

Port Arthur Public Library (TX) using Virtual Wallpaper to Lend Ebooks

Port Arthur Public Library (TX) using Virtual Wallpaper to Lend Ebooks

The Port Arthur Public Library here in Texas is lending ebooks at their local mall using virtual wallpaper! So cool! I will be very interested to see how this affects circulation numbers. I only hope that it doesn’t serve to publicize just how difficult it can be to borrow digital content from public libraries…

Nice job, Port Arthur!

via PA unveils digital library at Central Mall – Port Arthur News Online: News.