i guess it’s really real

tonight I was playing around with WorldCat.org, which is something that’s not unusual for me on a Saturday evening, and wouldn’t you know it, my book is now cataloged there.  which made me think now isn’t that somethin’?

my editor was very kind and said my book was delightful. i hope she’s right. and i hope you think so too.

which leads me to the next logical announcement: i’m getting married. to a boy. and he’s from texas. and he’s delightful. and there it is.

and so, I will very not likely be at ALA this year.  our wedding plans will keep us at home the weekend of July 11. I’ll miss seeing many of you for our regular catch-ups, but I am also very much looking forward to re-directing some of my energies from the professional to the personal now that the book is on its way.

the mortality of text (and other contributed content)

I have a flood of random high-level thinking that has been trapped inside my head, backed up behind the dam of finishing the book project. I’m going to take a quick break and just take the time to write it down. Who knows where this will go…

It started when @cindi (Cindi Trainor) published a tweet several weeks back about how a friend of hers had passed away this year. That friend’s flickr account was still online. She was grateful, she said, of the opportunity to be reminded of her friend every now and then. I responded that my sister, knowing she was dying, had methodically set about the task of deleting herself online before she died. Friendster: gone. My Space: gone. Website: gone.  I don’t think she was every on facebook, flickr, or other social networking sites, but she did delete herself from my online world far before she passed. In some way, it helped me prepare I think. Take, for example, the comment/testimonial she had left on my friendster account. “Chrystie is the first person I go to for any reason and on any matter,” she said, “for all of it.” When she deleted herself on friendster, her comment left my testimonial. I wish I had copied it. Printed it. Something. There are always regrets.

After Rosie died, I became somewhat obsessed with building her online presence back up. Memorials online included friend’s groups in facebook and flickr. People changed their avatars to include a photo of themselves with her; they published videos, pictures, stories, and all kinds of “this reminds me of Rosie” over the course of many months. I’m still getting some of that and posting it here. It’s all organized via delicious, flickr, and other memorial tags or sets. I lurk in facebook groups of strangers who have lost siblings and pour over memorials of the same ilk. Online condolences may be a metric of community health. Or, we just can’t help ourselves.

At dinner with Alane and George last month we talked about how our colleague Gary Houk still has a “presence” in our lives via his facebook profile. We wondered if it could be possible to request that dead people be added to a group, a social network of the deceased. So that you could go and visit them in their new context; so that we could mourn them more appropriately online. Last week I discovered the cemetery 2.0 website via attendees at #idea2008. It’s a little gadget that links to digital memorial from the site of your headstone – so that the deceased’s epitaph online is linked with the physical space. I wonder how these two ideas can mash up.

All this talk these last few weeks about publishing anonymously and how or whether the authenticated author and the text are connected, put together with the (culturally constructed?) impulse we have to associate them, has me wondering if it’s ever possible for us to allow an author, any author, to “die” and to also let their text/content be disembodied from them. If we were able to do so, would it change anything? In the case of the actual dead, probably not. But in the case of the living, the texts might be better off without their authors.

If this seems like a crazy turn for the LBC blog, perhaps it’s a sign of things to come. I do like to play in the theoretical space. It’s tangentially related to community building in that it considers the humanity of online content, and how important personal identity is/isn’t in the context of new media.

All said, I go back and forth between the extremes on this one. To write, or not to write. Is that the question?

well, well … it’s ‘done’

Last week I sent a first and what I hope will be ‘final’ manuscript to my publisher. So far, so good. He says he likes the book, that ALA Editions wants to do a Janurary article about me and the book, and they’d like me to start thinking about “web extras”. They also asked for Rachel MacNeiley’s info so they could contact her about a program book. Go Rachel! That story just keeps getting air-time, but it’s because Rachel is such a kick-ass librarian. Back to the book: aside from this blog, it’s hard to imagine what else the web extras should contain. Perhaps links to everything digital that I mention in the book? Back to the kick-ass: listen to my outright expletive in my latest post on BlogJunction. Could I get in trouble for that?

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a second project. There’s the movers & shakers survey for LJ and I’m thinking about expanding this into a larger research project for all library professionals about innovation and institutional support for it. For those M&S’s who took the survey, or worked with me on it,  or are simply interested in the topic, would you like to expand this project with me?

Third, with a few other folks, I’ve started an oral history project called “Community First” about mentoring, community, and library leadership (through technology). The first few pieces of the project are published here: http://www.webjunction.org/community-first. Please visit the site and let us know what you think and/or if you’d like to join the effort. The folks at LITA National Forum seemed engaged in the topic but one audience member said to me “young librarians don’t need our permission to innovate. why do you care what we think? just do it!” I agree that sometimes that’s necessary, but the purpose of this project is to keep that from being necessary.

In other news, Francine Fialkoff took note of my commentary on the LJ+AL controversy in her editorial Librarians Too Annoyed. I couldn’t agree with her more.

What will Libraries Build Communities become now that the book upon which it was based is done? I’m not sure, but I’m currently reading Management Gurus and Blue Ocean Strategy. I’m hoping to avoid business school, but learn all I can about business practices on the side and on the job as I work my way towards some next step view of how community building and business practices can come together for libraries and for general social good.

See. Still lots to think about…

LJ article “what we need”


As promised, here’s a link to the article Meredith Farkas and I wrote about library journal “movers & shakers” and institutional support for their work and innovations. An excerpt:

What do organizations need to do to help innovation happen? We asked these Movers directly, and their answer was clear: continue to make time and resources available for professional development, thinking, and experimentation. They asked explicitly for listening, leadership, and collaboration from their institutions. They also wanted room and allowances for failure. “Some ideas die, and some don’t,” they said. “Identify resources for innovative test bed projects and let’s see ‘What if?’”

Most of this group longed for leadership, particularly in the area of risk. They saw encouraging “risk-taking” as part of their organization’s leadership role and called for an organizational culture that rewarded risk-takers “among all staff members.” “Model creativity and risk-taking as leaders,” said one, “reward risk-taking,” “provide admin support for risk-taking,” and “create a better sense of unity and vision,” said others. “Specifically address innovation and practices for producing innovation…make innovative work an organizational effort,” said another. “Show us how to handle failure.”

Other points of leadership came around clarity and communication. Movers & Shakers want to know what their organizations encourage and what they don’t. “Often it’s guesswork..,” said one. Several respondents wished for more trust, more conversation, and “just listening.”

And, finally, very simply, “make decisions faster.”

Thanks to the Movers who responded so candidly to our survey. Thanks to Meredith for working with me on it. Thanks to Marilyn Mason for encouraging us to write it. Thanks to Rebecca Miller for turning all of this into a single piece.

(Yay. An article that I co-wrote is on the cover of LJ.)

not so bad

I’m at ALA in Anaheim this week and while I’m here I’m meeting with J. Michael Jeffers, the new editor-in-chief of ALA Editions about the book and about this project. I met Michael a few days ago over dinner with a large group and I’m very excited to get to know him a bit more and work with him towards (final) completion of my project.

In preparation for my meeting, I opened the the first chapter of my book in Google docs this morning and re-read that first chapter.

My very sincerest thanks today go out to Patrick Hogan for giving me the gumption to take that first *real* step towards completing this work after such a difficult winter and following.

Turns out he was right: I *am* almost finished.

collaborative writing

my colleagues at WebJunction published this wonderful article about Rachel MacNeilly’s fabulous children’s programs at the Mission branch of the San Francisco Public Library. they kept my name on the article because I met Rachel last fall, was so impressed with her work in the branch, and blogged about it here back at that time. this article is based on that post.

let’s give credit where credit is due: rachel (herself), along with jennifer, emily, and tim at WebJunction made this wonderful success story much better than i could have done on my own. here’s to collaborative writing, and editing, and all other forms of contribution!

giving thanks

just a quick note to say happy thanksgiving – i am very grateful to everyone who talks with me about the LBC project on this site, via email, at conference meetups and speaking gigs, through library site visits, and/or answered online surveys.

your willingness to share how you’re building community through libraries is making this work possible. (and i can comfortably say that it is now indeed a ‘work’!) thank you and happy holidays!

tweet tweet

I’ve found my flickr (as my dear friend Michael Porter would say) and it’s on twitter. Try following me there (http://twitter.com/itgirl) for library, WebJunction, LBC, and personal news – at least until the LBC book’s done. There’s something magical about 140 characters!! Twitter’s not replacing the blog, but as the deadline zooms in on us, the blogging gets harder and harder to get to. Once we turn in the full draft, I’ll be back a bit more regularly I think.

Twitter’s also a fairly interesting experiment in “mobile” community for me. Always learning, always revising…
Meanwhile, regarding our LBC project, I do want to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to our survey, commented via the blog and emails, come to our meet-ups at conferences, and even contributed sidebars for the various areas we’re tracking. This (surprise! surprise!) has been my most favorite part of this project and we couldn’t have done it w/out your insights, examples, and inspirations.

Ok, back to (finishing up the) work …

cooking for one + deadline

I’ve been in Columbus for work, and haven’t put much thought to text this week as a result. Still, the deadline is looming. And I don’t know, as it is looming so, whether or not I’ll be able to use this space to work out my thoughts as much (too late for that!). We’ll see how the next month or so plays out. I may just use the space here to get some reprieve from the serious word crunching I’m now doing over in Google docs.
In that spirit, I’ll simply share that I just ate a single portion of penne pasta with canned (although very good – and spicy!) spaghetti sauce. And yes, I could barely spare the time to transfer this gorgeous feast from saucepan to pasta bowl. But did it do the trick? Yes. I’m rejuvenated and looking forward to finishing up another chapter this weekend (she says as she knocks on wood).

BTW, it has been fun reading all your fave non-lib blogs. Thanks for humoring me! Yarnstorm is amazing! But does this mean that my friends at WebJunction are no longer ego-surfing? No! It can’t be so! 🙂

read, read, write.

it’s funny how personal lives can be happening perpendicular rather than parallel to your professional life. that’s how i’ve felt lately. some of it started last fall and i thought it was just gonna be a rough patch. the ebb and flow of a typical person’s typical personal life. but then, challenge after challenge continued on through the winter. and even though we’re still talking February, i’ve watched my herbs, bulbs, and even rose bushes sprout new life in the last couple of weeks. i said the new year was gonna be it, but i’ve changed that to springtime. i can feel a huge shift coming – and it’s pulling the perpendicularity of the personal into parallel with the professional. not only can i feel it, i trust it. we’ll see if i’m right.

all of this has all culminated in a lovely new home for me in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. this new home has internet access, a desk, stainless steel appliances, and plenty of light, just to name a few of its refreshing qualities. i think it’s gonna be just the thing for facilitating said seismic shifts, but also just the thing for finishing said seismic works (the book!).

on my way to and from anywhere, i now pass the lovely new Beacon Hill library. this is the closest i’ve lived to a Seattle branch – i usually head downtown to the central library. every time i pass, it looks livelier than the last. i just may stop in and change my neighborhood setting. again, we’ll see. i do need to get back to three or four items that have fallen off my hold list while the rest of my life was circulating.

meanwhile, my small friend Lucia (age 2), who makes much more use of her neighborhood branch than i do, has recently taken to commanding “read, read, read” when any adult is within ear-shot. these commands have inspired this shirt, worn by Lucia’s mom to a recent social gathering.


i’m going to get one of these shirts for myself. (you can buy one too if you want, just let me know.) not only do i think it precious that Lucia’s mom has captured this demand on a hipster t-shirt, i also think Lucia has a good point. i’ve not had one second to either read (or write) of late. u have a new stack of books by my bed. some are research for the book, some i started reading last summer but never finished, some are new and i’ve never even cracked ’em. When seismic shifts are upon you, what else is there to do but read, read, read?

and then, of course, write, write, write.

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