Friday, December 21, 2007


2007: The year I rediscovered the web

1. Discovered all the blogs about librarianship and information technology. (Before this I thought all blogs were about child rearing, dealing with a disease, adventurous sex lives, or politics.)
2. Learned how to use a feed reader. Became a big fan.
3. Subscribed to many LIS blogs and read them voraciously. Learned about the 2.0 stuff. Learned who all the "popular" bloggers were.
4. Started my own blog just for a test.
5. Coordinated a Learning 2.0 program at MPOW.
6. Put some pictures in Flickr.
7. Decided I wanted to start a "real" blog. Wrote a few posts.
8. Started twittering.
9. Couldn't figure out what I wanted to write about on my blog. Seemed like everyone else was already covering everything interesting, or if I got a good idea, I was too tired to write about it.
10. Started getting tired of reading all the feeds. Maybe I'll prune them down somewhat.

Current status at the end of 2007

I'm suffering from information and idea overload. The world got bigger, but it also got distracting. I need to focus on what I want to accomplish this next year and really try to direct my energies toward those goals.

On Blogging

I often feel like a sponge. I sit at my computer and soak up all the ideas, personalities, insights, issues, and I feel like I know a lot. However, distilling all of that into cogent paragraphs is more work. It takes time and energy. The old adage is that you don't really know something until you teach it to someone else. Teaching... writing... explaining... communicating. I have to learn how to squeeze the sponge. More than that, I have to be more than a sponge, because a sponge just spits out the same stuff that went in, unchanged. Useless, except for moving the stuff to a different spot.

I think the real key is what Walt Crawford titled his book on writing for the library profession: "First, have something to say."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

These are some things I am thankful for this year:
  • a warm and comfortable home.
  • my health.
  • freedom from debilitating depression.
  • my partner, Tony, who brings laughter and love into my home, and who has taught me how to relax without guilt.
  • my secure income and ability to pay for necessities and some luxuries, such as my computer and internet connection.
  • the discovery of a rich and thoughtful community of librarians on the net.
  • my therapy group with whom I share challenges and celebrate insights and victories every week.
  • my coworkers who are such a joy to work with.
  • the opportunity to try new things in my library and volunteer work.
  • the donors who keep our animal shelter financially solvent.
  • a great manager to run the animal shelter on a daily basis.
  • my pets and and the dogs I foster, who keep me grounded in simple things, and show unconditional love.
  • the beauty of the natural surroundings on this mountain in Tennessee.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Java Jackets and Fortune Cookies

I am in a "PR Group" where we have spent some time thinking up ways to promote the library and library services on campus. I am so proud of some of our first efforts!

We don't have a coffee shop in the library, so we ordered these "java jackets" for the popular campus coffee shop across the street. There were lots of ooh's and ah's and "how cute!" comments the day Cari delivered them.

< We ordered the fortune cookies with an assortment of ten different library-related fortunes. We took them to the dining hall to be put out near their popular stir-fry station. Here are three of the fortunes. (Click on photo to view larger version on Flickr.)

<Here's a closeup of the java jacket. (All photos link to images in Flickr.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Budget Time

Academic Librarian wrote recently about some reasons why librarians wouldn’t want to be administrators. I sent a comment about how in smaller libraries, there are often more opportunities to build management skills, and to have some administrative responsibility, and yet still do "librarian" work.

One of the administrative duties I have found most difficult to learn how to do is budgeting. At MPOW, we are now preparing our budgets for Fiscal Year 2008-2009, which starts July 1, 2008. This is my fourth time through the budget process since my position was changed. Until this, as head of cataloging, I was not involved in buying things or deciding what to buy. I just cataloged it when it got there. My colleagues in Acquisitions and Serials (who now "report" to me) had been involved, and I basically relied on them to do what they had always done, and tried to understand it all. The process is complicated by the fact that our library accounts are all in our ILS, and the University accounts are all in the Banner system. They match, for the most part, which is good, but it's still confusing.

Each year I have understood the process a little more. We have steadily been moving money from print to online, just like every other library, and we've been shifting money from monographs to serials because faculty are requesting fewer books and we've been spending that money on databases and periodicals. The administration really only cares about the bottom line-- the total, rather than what's in each account. But I have to supply explanations or justifications for increases in individual line items that are over 2 or 3 percent. This is the first year I'm actually going to make some adjustments in certain accounts as a method of planning for what I think we need to be spending our money on, rather than what we've spent.

What I find especially difficult is that we are constantly making decisions about buying things throughout the year, based on requests from faculty, consortial offers, and "deals" offered by vendors. Whatever we add or cancel between now and the end of June will not be reflected in the next budget, because we are submitting the budget now. So the budget request always lags behind what we are actually doing.

This is another one of those things they don't teach you in library school. I really don't see how they could, since every institution has a different process. So every year I flounder through it and learn a little bit more. Also, I am fortunate to work in a very collegial environment, where we make most resource decisions in a group, and I feel very comfortable asking for input and help with the budgeting process from this group and my director.

My director, by the way, is in a similar boat, being a new Associate Provost for the entire IT division. My budget confusion probably pales in comparison to hers. Rather than try to take it over with an iron fist, she has left resource decisions to us librarians in that group I referred to above. This makes us feel more responsible and work harder to explain and justify what we are doing, in order to provide her with the information she needs to present the budget request to her superiors. In fact, she extends this style of management to most of the "running of the library," which I think has strengthened our sense of purpose and made us feel that what we do as administrators actually matters.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Blog's Reading Level

This is my first meme.

Several bloggers I read have applied the Blog Readability Test to their blogs. So I tried it with this blog:

Part of the reason I started writing this blog was to improve my writing (which is hard to do when I don't post, I know.) But I didn't think my writing was so convoluted that it took a genius to read it. So this had me worried.

But as others have commented, we don't know what it is measuring and how. So maybe I don't feel so bad.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Talking about volunteering

I've been asked to talk to a group of high school seniors tomorrow morning about my work with the Humane Society. A private school in my community has a program called the Senior Lecture Series - A Sense of Place. One of the components is learning about community and service. They have a speaker come in on Sunday evening and then on Monday, they go out in groups to meet with various community members who are vested in the non-profit outreach sector. They are scheduled to visit the animal shelter and the shelter manager will give them a tour and talk to them about what we do and why it's needed. The focus of my talk will be more of a personal approach about why I got involved and what made it "click."

This is the gist of what I'm going to talk about.

Finding what you are "passionate" about
Early volunteer experiences
The "click" of how I got involved in animal stuff
Why it's rewarding to me (my convictions)
No cause is "better" than another one
Do the kind of work you enjoy
Levels of involvement and life stages
The danger of burnout and importance of balance and sustainability
Fulfill your commitments, but you choose them, and you get to pick, because it's volunteer work!

I don't know if this will be too long-- I might run out of time. It might be over their heads. I'm hoping to make it conversational and that I will notice if their eyes glaze over. I've never talked to a group of high school students before.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Walking the dogs

Both yesterday and this morning, I took the dogs walking at beautiful Lake Cheston on the campus of the University of the South, in Sewanee, TN.

More pictures on my flickr site at

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In defense of online

This may come as a surprise to many in the blogosphere, but there are still a lot of people who dislike and distrust the online world. They have no desire to sit in front of a keyboard, or send text messages, or read blogs, or do more than what their work may require of them as far as a computer is concerned. Some people only use their email to send the joke or the cute puppy picture on to the people in their address book. To them, the whole idea of online social networking is that it's a waste of time, at best, and dangerous and unwholesome at worst. Many of the people I know in real life fall into this category.

I am a rather gregarious and social person. I enjoy social events and talking to people and I'm one of the people at work who shows up pretty regularly in the break room at 10 AM and 3 PM (part of the culture at our library) when I am not in the middle of something. I smile a lot and can do small talk. I can be a good listener. I'm not afraid to express an opinion. I don't have a busy social life, but I am active in volunteer work and I think I am fairly well-liked by the people who know me. In other words, I do not think I am socially backward.

However, I like interacting online. I like email. I like twitter. I like reading blogs. I even like online dating sites, although I'm not doing that these days. I've met some great people online. Sometimes I've even met them in real life.

But all of my family, and most of my close friends, are completely not interested in these things. Some of them will email me, but that's it, and even some of them prefer the phone. I am met with blank stares or a look of incomprehension or even pity if I try to explain something like twitter to them. Spending time in a chat room (such as the Library Society of the World!) is considered to be a poor substitute for "getting out there in real life and meeting people and doing things."

So I'm a little defensive about my online activities. I feel like I constantly have to justify the time I spend on the computer. I am fully cognizant of the dangers of living vicariously and never really doing anything. You never get any exercise doing that, and you get fat and pale and your eyes hurt. But, um, isn't that what happens when you watch too much tv? Or read too many books?

Yes, we need people in our lives and we need to go out and do things. But we are greatly enriched by this thing called the internet.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Email discussion lists rant

I have been participating in email discussion lists for a long time. I think it was around 1989 or so when I subscribed to the cataloger's list called AUTOCAT. It was on "Bitnet" which was a precursor to the internet. I was a new cataloger, and I loved having a place to ask questions about what I was doing, and even answer a few when I knew something. AUTOCAT is still around, and is very active, and there are many other library-related lists as well. I have been on and off of several of them over the years. I can't keep up with reading all this email, but since I discovered RSS, I've put the ones with web archives on my reader and that makes it easier.

One of my pet peeves is the reluctance of people to actually post to the list. When I ask a question or ask for input, usually I get great responses from helpful people, but many people respond to me privately and not to the list, even though they are not conveying anything private or confidential. And then several people write to me asking me to summarize to the list whatever answers I get, or share with them because they are interested too. That's what the list is for! What good is a list full of questions and no answers? It's a DISCUSSION list, for pete's sake. If people won't discuss anything publicly, it becomes nothing but news items and job listings. I don't have time to summarize responses, and I never know whether to forward private responses to others without asking permission. And it takes time to do that too. I try to thank everyone who responds to me, and I've started adding the following questions:

Is there any reason you did not post your response to the list?
Is it ok if I post it to the list?
If so, would you like to remain anonymous?

I did this recently, and the answers to the first question were that they didn't want to "clutter up" the list.

Last year, I was trying to launching an initiative to step up my department's assistance with the archives. (Subject of another long post.) I knew very little about archives, and so joined the archives list and posted a number of questions. I got great answers, but none of them were to the list! I got frustrated and posted a rant on that list, and several people used the same rationale-- that rather than everyone answering, the questioner should summarize the answers to save everyone's time.

Now if I'm taking a poll, then yes, a summary is appropriate. But if I'm asking how you do something, like, say, what kind of numbering scheme you use for your archives, or how you are managing workflow for e-journal cataloging -- or if someone else asked this, and I was interested -- it is much better to read the responses and where they are coming from than to read a summary. I think wanting to reduce the list traffic is mainly a result of not knowing how to manage one's email application (ever heard of filters, anyone? Another topic for another day) or, as I've said, not knowing about RSS.

I think many people are just afraid to see their words posted for everyone to see. They are insecure and think they don't know enough to be so public, or they are afraid of looking stupid, etc. I remember one person saying that she didn't like to post on a list because she couldn't take it back or correct what she wrote. That's pathetic. There was a huge controversy on the AUTOCAT list about going public with the archives for the same reason. Come on people, it's list traffic, not a thesis.

National Blog Posting Month

I just found out via another blog that November is National Blog Posting Month, or "NaBloPoMo." There is a NaBloPoMo network on Ning, which I joined, and tried to get my blog listed there, but the posted instructions didn't work for me. Also, it appears that you are expected to post your blog there, or double post if you have an outside blog. I dunno about that.

I have been wanting to write more, so I think I will take this on. As long as I don't make it a requirement that every post must be literary or thought-provoking, or worthy of honorable mention in the blogosphere, then I should be ok. If nothing else, my writing should improve.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

E-journal cataloging redux

I am struggling with how to handle the workload of cataloging our e-journals in a logical way. From what I can tell from my experience and from reading whatever I can find, there are three approaches being used:

1. Put all of them in the catalog. Make your catalog the "go-to" place for all titles. This usually entails loading batches of marc records for the titles included in aggregator databases. These batches are regularly deleted and reloaded to account for changes in coverage. Depending on the system, service, and setup, there could be multiple records for each title (one for every database where the title can be found) or they could be merged so that there is only one record for each e-title, with holdings for each database.

2. Don't catalog them at all. Rely on your A-Z list, link resolver, and/or other tools to provide access to e-journals.

3. Catalog some of them, but not all. This is what we have been doing. The rationale behind it was that we would catalog titles to which we had a real "subscription" but we would not try to include all the titles in aggregator databases.

Up to now, this has sort of worked. I loaded our print titles into our A-Z list (through Serials Solutions), and we promoted this as the most complete place to go for journals. In the catalog, we used the single-record approach, and put electronic holdings on print titles where we had e-access. The display for this is fairly clear. If a title was online-only, then we would enter a record for the electronic version. I had some basic edits I did for a title in multiple formats, including adding a 246 for the title with (Online) after it so that it would show up in a browse list.

However, when we entered into a shared catalog, I began pushing for the use of separate records, because it became obvious that we could not share hybrid records if we didn't have both versions, and because of other concerns. I pushed for this knowing that I would have to change all the ones we had already done. Eventually the shared catalog administrator made the decision to go with separate records. I have not gotten all of mine changed yet.

In the meantime, other things began happening. I fell way behind in activations of "free" online access and even where we paid for print + online, I had trouble matching what Ebso said we were supposed to have with what was really available when I went to the publisher's site. Then this past summer, we entered into some "big deal" arrangements with a consortium where we agree to maintain our current subscriptions, pay an additional modest fee, and get access to all the titles in the whole package. So do I have to catalog all of those titles? We don't really have "subscriptions" to them. Then another journal collection started adding "free" titles along with the ones we actually subscribed to. Do I add them?

Then a reference librarian asked me about a title he couldn't find in the journal list, but that was in our catalog. It turns out he got to it using an alternate title. The A-Z list does not have added entries or cross-references. (Yes, catalog records do add value.)

So now I'm in a quandary. Why should some titles have catalog records and some not? Where is the cutoff line? How can I keep up? What should be our approach?

Besides providing access for users, we use the ILS for our record-keeping: our payments, stats, department codes-- all that management data that we put in there to take advantage of such a robust and powerful (and expensive) database system. If I abandoned this and just used an ERM, I would have to duplicate everything.

I found this article recently: "Single, Separate, or Something in between: Results of a Survey on Representing Electronic Serials in the Catalog" by Abigail C. Bordeaux.
It's available on her blog at where she says it is in press at Journal of Internet Cataloging, modified on March 6, 2007. She focused on the single vs. separate records issue, but she did touch upon alternatives to cataloging.

One commonality among a variety of respondents was recognition that, no matter how electronic serials are cataloged, many patrons are not using the catalog in any case. As one serialist wrote, “We are beginning to accept that the OPAC is no longer the center of the universe. Most patrons access ejournals via our A-Z list or Google Scholar.”
This post is less than concise, but I'm getting my thoughts in order to post a question on this to some of the discussion lists I subscribe to. I think I need some advice.

Revamped Blog

Up to this point, I've only used this blog for the Learning 2.0 program, but I think I'm ready to start writing about other things. I've stewed over whether I want to use this only for library-related topics, and find a "niche," which is the advice for "blogging successfully." (I guess a successful blog is one that gets read by a lot of people.) I've decided that I might want to write about non-library subjects, such as topics related to my Humane Society work, or just random thoughts about life. So... I'm just going to do it, and I'll tag my posts. Since most people seem to read blogs via a reader, maybe eventually I will figure out how to produce more than one feed, so that people who want to read my tremendously insightful library posts will be able to screen out the other stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The end of the program

I created this blog to participate in the Learning 2.0 program at Sewanee, which I organized and carried out, pretty much on my own. I had some help at the beginning. It was not original work; I borrowed freely from a number of other existing programs.

In addition to the original program at PLCMC, some of the ones I used are:
Ohio University Libraries Learning 2.0
EKU Library Learning 2.0
Emerging Technologies Group at McMaster University Library
Lucy's Librarians Learn Library 2.0
Learning Web 2.0 by Diving In at Allegheny College

I launched our program in June, and then at the end of July I got sidetracked with other work and ended up not posting another lesson until late September. A lot of people who had started the program lost interest during that time and I feel bad about that. We ended up having 12 people complete the program out of a 57-person division. That's about 21%.

Vicki and I have been talking about keeping the site up, having a "second round" with incentives that are maybe worth less (like a $10 gift certificate instead of $20) and even inviting some faculty to do the program.

I think in order for it to be a standing program, it needs to be turned around so that it's in the right order, rather than chronologically backwards the way blogs are. I'm not sure how to reformat it. Maybe a website or a wiki or something. Also there are errors that I could correct.

There are some things I wanted to include but didn't have time, such as Library Thing, Google Apps, and Second World. I also left out some good content from some of the other programs that were aimed specifically at libraries, because I wanted to be inclusive. So I'd like to continue this somehow, and focus more on library issues.

As for this blog, I've been thinking about what I want to do with it. I think I'm just going to leave this one sit here, and start another blog. I've been reading a lot of blogs, and there is nothing magic about it, except that you have to have something to say. Sometimes I do. I waver a lot on whether this should just be a library blog, include personal stuff, or even include the humane society stuff. I don't think a single blog could be all of those things and be interesting to any audience, and I don't think I can manage three blogs! So... I'm still thinking about how to do it. And then of course there is the issue of time and actually writing.

So I'm not sure what will be next.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Podcasts Schmodcasts!

I have a confession to make. I don't like podcasts. I did the exercise. (I prepared the exercise!) I looked for podcasts, I tried listening to a few. But I just don't like them. I don't want to sit and listen to an audio. I'd rather read. The only time I turn on the radio is in the car. I do like it in the car, but that's because I'm listening while I'm doing something else. I used to be a fan of NPR, but that was when I had a fairly long commute to work. I hardly even listen to music outside the car. If the music has words, I can't read or do any work because the words distract me. If I find music that I can read or work to, it's because I can tune out the music, which means I'm not really listening to it.

I realize that I am very odd in today's world where music is a constant companion to many people.

As for video, well I do watch TV. But I do get bored with it sometimes. I don't watch the news on TV because I get frustrated when they are on a story that I'm not interested in, or keep giving me tidbits of an interesting story "still to come" just to keep me viewing to the end. Instead, I get my news (with some video) on the internet, where I can pick and choose the items I want at my own speed.

In analyzing this, I guess that means I prefer a non-linear approach and I'm more visual than aural.

So that's why I haven't linked to any podcasts for this exercise.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Video sharing with YouTube

This is one of my all-time favorite videos. Someone sent it to me several years ago via email. I found it on YouTube and embedded it here. This is an example of Canine Freestyle.
  • Canine Freestyle is a choreographed performance organized with music, illustrating the training and joyful relationship of a dog and handler team. Freestyle is an excellent discipline to illustrate the conformation and movement of the dog. The reach, drive and beauty of an athletic, trained dog moving to music can take one’s breath away.-- From the Canine Freestyle Federation web page.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tagging and Social Bookmarking with

I just completed preparing the lesson on this subject on the main Learning 2.0 at Sewanee blog. I have fiddled around with and have a page there, but it doesn't have much on it. Eventually I would like to go through all of my favorites in my IE browser at work and transfer the ones I still want to a page.

There are pieces of code you can add to a blog account that publish your bookmarks on your blog. You can also add them to your profile in Facebook, I think.

I don't know what happened to the program in August. I guess I just got bogged down with other stuff and couldn't seem to get back to this project. But the Oct. 23 meeting deadline got me going on it. I have two more lessons after this one, and I'm trying to decide what to cover. There are three main topics that I had planned to cover: Podcasts and Video, Online applications and tools, and I really wanted to do an intro to Second World. I also left out Library Thing, which is very popular even outside of the library world. So... I have to choose. Maybe we can do a second round of these lessons later in the year and cover those plus other things. I have seen that the original library that did this, the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, has an ongoing extension of the program, called Learning 2.1. (This one is continuous and there are no prizes.)

Besides the topics above, there are things like social networks (including Facebook and Ning), Twitter, and lots of library-specific uses for the categories of things already covered.

If anyone is reading this, and has a suggestion about which two of the three remaining topics I mentioned they would be most interested in, please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wiki lesson in Learning 2.0

I just completed Lesson 5 of the Learning 2.0 program-- about wikis. I am so far behind on this project! I need to get several lessons done ahead of time and just post them at the beginning of the correct week!

Anyway, my thoughts on wikis: Many library technical services departments have used them to post policies and procedures on a website that everyone can find. It's easier than making a web page another way. Betsy started one, at and posted a couple of documents on it. We need to add more things and update a lot of our procedures.

We have had a library wiki for news, but it's on a different platform, Tikiwiki I think. I think it's a little more difficult to use.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Using RSS and Google Reader

I just started using Google Reader early this year, and I've found it to be very helpful in keeping up. Actually, what happened was that I discovered library blogs. I started reading a few and they would refer to another one, so I checked that one out, and added it. I now have over 50 subscriptions to blogs written by librarians about various things. This is a testing phase, because I can't possibly read them all all the time. I've deleted some, and I will continue to delete after I've picked my favorites. Meanwhile, here are some blogs I enjoy reading or find useful:

ALA TechSource
Planet Cataloging
Free Range Librarian
Hectic Pace
Lorcan Dempsey's weblog

Not just for libraries:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flicker Mashups and Tools

I spent a great deal of time trying to pick good examples of Flickr mashups and tools for the project blog. Some of the ones I tried I could not get to work correctly. I liked the "Spell with Flickr" thing, so I used it, but it took me a long time to figure out how to actually save the image of the words spelled out with images. (I ended up doing a screen print, (Ctl-Print Screen) and then had to paste it someplace, so I opened up PowerPoint and pasted it into an empty slide, and then saved the image. Then I had to use a photo editor to crop it and resize it. So it wasn't simple.

I find most of the Flickr things to be kind of dumb, and they don't appeal to me. But then I'm not really that big on pictures anyway. I do realize that some people are more "visual" than others and that images can be a very strong way to communicate.

I tried an application called fotocrib and used it to alter my picture on my profile.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blogging from Flickr

Originally uploaded by Patricia Thompson2007
This is a picture of one of the foster puppies I had back in April. I am posting this blog entry from within Flickr to see how it works.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Here I am!

I've started this blog as part of the Learning 2.0 program at Sewanee. OK, I've had a little practice since I developed the blog for the program. However, I did it for the first time just a few short weeks ago.

I started getting interested in what was going on with libraries and Web 2.0 just in the past few months. Up until then, I thought blogs were things that teenagers and 20-somethings did to post what they did every day, and wondered why anyone would care, and decided that I didn't have time for that. I knew that some people blogged about politics, and that didn't interest me either. But lately, I have found that there are all kinds of blogs on nearly every topic imaginable, and I began reading some librarian blogs. Since they all quote each other, I soon found a few more, and then I found some directories of blogs, and then I set them up on my RSS reader (which we will cover in Learning 2.0 in week 4.)

I also found a blog written by Tim Goodman, the Television Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. I started reading him because he wrote articles about episodes of the Sopranos. Not only does he write interesting analyses of the shows, there are lots of users who follow him and write comments. Of course, I didn't find all this until last month, and as you may know, last night was the final episode of the show. I'm going to miss it. Any other Sopranos fans out there? What did you think of last night's "finale?"

Well, getting back to work issues, in reading the things I was finding in these librarian blogs, I learned a great deal about new tools and how people are using them to share information, and I think it's important that we as information technology professionals need to be aware of them. There is a lot more out there than email. In fact, I keep hearing that students don't even read their email any more. So how do we communicate with them? We need to find out!