Librarians and Optimism

Okay, so right up front I have to say that this is an optimistic post about what I am a grateful for in my library. I think that librarians need to hold on to the optimism even though it is definitely doom and gloom on the budget front and it is hard to be cheery when it is cold and dreary out.

But more than any tech tool I can promote here or any website I can hyperlink to showcase a new cool tool, it will be your optimism and confidence that will allow you to succeed. Librarians are great at doing a lot with a little and helping others. But in order to keep doing this day after day we need to promote optimism. Optimism is not the opposite of realism, but the outlook on the world that makes any of this worth living.

So why am I optimistic? Because anything else would just be too dreary to contemplate. Think about it: everyone has a ton of work to do, there aren’t enough hours in the day, or money in the budget and people still don’t get why we have graduate degrees to “put books on shelves.” Really, it is enough to get anyone down. But I think there are way more things to uplift us than get us down, really, even in a hyperlinked, Web 2.0 world.

So in honor of Thanksgiving (and because I don’t know if I’ll have time to post again this week) here is a list of my top 10 things that I am grateful for in my library:

1. Students–I love teaching and most of my students are fabulous and excited to learn. Did I mention that they are furious at book banning? How can I not love teaching students who are engaged?

2. Patrons at the Reference Desk–Yes, some are annoying but the vast majority are great. I love helping answer questions and always learn something new.

3. “Thanks!”–Even better, being thanked for helping a patron at the reference desk.

4. Creating workshops–I love sharing information and my colleagues are eager to learn

5. Freedom to try new things–I can start blogs, create gadgets and podcast at my work. I love this freedom to try new things

6. Colleagues–I have great colleagues who have a wealth of knowledge and are willing to share.

7. Research–I love being able to do research that I think will help my library and be able to share that research with others.

8. Connections–I think one of the best things is forming connections with the community, people and other librarians.

9. People using the library–At least at my library, we are usually overflowing with students using the library. I love the activity.

10. Career–Last but certainly not least, I am thankful to have a not only a job but career in librarianship. I love my work and never take for granted that I am employed.

So what are you thankful for in your library? It is always easy to complain, but sometimes hard to praise. But trust me, if you think about what rocks in your library you’ll not only be more optimistic but you’ll be more confident when you try out new Web 2.0 stuff too.

Until next time…have a great Monday!

Accessibility and Useless Gadgets

It is Friday and, like always, my brain feels about fried so I think that it will come as no surprise that today’s ramblings and resources are a little off the wall. But really it makes sense, really! I’ll explain.

Yesterday was the fourth in a series of five technology brown bags that I have been hosting at my library. The topic was on accessibility and online resources. The CSU system is one of the great systems that is actually forcing compliance with Section 508. However, lots of people are confused about what they need to do to make, retrofit and use accessible resources. It was a great workshop and of course, lots of excellent questions raised. One major question was: how do we code accessible JavaScript and AJAX? I really need this as I want to make Google Gadgets for the library. So of course, I went digging.

Here are two resources that I am still reading, but look awesome, on accessible coding. First is Reading up on WAI-ARIA from 456 Berea Street. It links to a ton of resources on creating Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA).

The other great resource is this Accessible JavaScript post from Enpresiv Developers blog. I really need to work through this because accessible JavaScript is the only way to go.

And, because it wouldn’t be Friday without a slightly random article. Here is a Wired article on Five Useless Gadgets You Should Throw in the Trash Right Now. And can I just say, I am completely for getting rid of fax machines–those things hate me! And printer ink, don’t even get me started! So have a read, or at least a laugh at the photograph in the article.

Have a great weekend!

Reference Desk and Basic Tech

I just got my Fall issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly and there is an article that I think everyone should check out. Written by LIS student, Marcella Knibbe-Haanstra, the article is titled “Reference Desk Dilemmas: The Impact of New Demands on Librarianship.” The article reiterates literature on stereotypes of librarians and stress caused by technology and it is a very nice synthesis of the literature on stress management, user expectations, changing technology and shifting roles of the reference librarian. I think it is a great starting point for a conversation on how we can handle our increased workloads and technical competencies that we need in our jobs today. Way to go to publish while in library school too, Marcella!

Now, something practical to help with the technology stress. Here is a great post from Pogue’s Posts hosted by The New York Times. Listed are tech tips and tricks for basic computer use. The comments expand on this post and there are some great tips. I even discovered some shortcuts I didn’t know about, which is super cool. Share the tips with your friends and patrons so we all can use the computer a little more efficiently.

Enjoy the rest of the day and remember–computers are stupid, it is the person who uses the computer that makes them perform great feats!

Short Post for a Monday Morning

So, this is going to be much shorter than my usual posts as I am supposed to be at CSUEB fall convocation in 30 minutes…Well, I’ll try to be brief.

So, are you feeling that technology is taking over your life? Fear not! I have a couple of great resources from Lifehacker (once again subscribe to their blog, awesome stuff, although so many posts per day that it is easy to get overwhelmed).

I love this post Ungeek to Live: On Reading Well. Here’s just something to warm a librarian’s or bibliophile’s heart. A techie blog calling for more reading, scheduling time to read, and reading for fun. Very happy find on my RSS feed. Don’t miss the comments to this post, very lively discussion of the merits of libraries, used bookstores and chains as places to get books.

Second post from Lifehacker Best of the Best: High Five Winners. A great list of the top tools that Lifehacker readers voted on in various categories. I’ve got to say that I love VLC as a media player and a lot of these other recommendations. Also, I just found where the next time sink for me is coming from–testing all of these tools that I’ve not used yet. And notice that paper and pencil come in on top for quite a few categories. Ungeek to live indeed.

Enjoy your Monday. Comments welcomed.

In the beginning…there was the RSS feed

So while I hope this blog reaches a large audience, its primary audience at present are the librarians and awesome staff at CSUEB libraries. Why? Because we all need to share what we find out and this is way better than bombarding people with emails about all the stuff I think is cool and handy. And also, blogs have RSS feeds and wikis don’t.

What’s an RSS feed? I’m glad you asked. That is why we are starting at the beginning and bringing everyone up to speed so we can go forth together to improve and implement online services and resources for everyone.

Back to RSS feeds, these feeds allow you to collect from many blogs and newsources and read them in one place–your blog reader. Watch this short video below on RSS feeds to get a better idea about them and then subscribe to my blog by using the link that says Entries RSS or use one of the RSS buttons near the bottom of the page on the right side of the screen.

Really, I wasn’t joking. Subscribe to this blog!