librarians on revolution and revitalization

The most recent full LotR episode – Librarians on Revolution and Revitalization – is available on the Internet Archive. It was mostly a storytime show with a bookfight, but I also talked a bit about the library’s newly renovated downtown branch and the debacle that is our new public catalogue (Encore from Innovative Interfaces has been an absolute gongshow).

The episode’s also in the Librarianautica podcast (iTunes / RSS) soon after airing on CHLY 101.7FM. Next episode will be airing November 17, 2015.

text "Librarianautica" split over 4 lines over a Hokusai print of waves

librarianautica podcast = librarians on the radio

One of the issues I have with Librarians on the Radio is that we are often talked about as a podcast. Until now that hasn’t been strictly true. We’ve been a radio show whose episodes I collect on the Internet Archive in the Nanaimo Community Radio Library. Podcasts need an RSS feed and for people not to have to go to a website to find a new episode. We didn’t have a really good podcast feed and more importantly for a lot of users, we weren’t findable in iTunes’ podcasts even before the radio station’s previous podcast hosting went under. That has all changed!

Here’s the Librarianautica RSS feed to plug into your non-iTunes podcast app and here’s the iTunes link to the show. I call it Librarianautica rather than Librarians on the Radio for the searchability factor (search for it in iTunes Podcasts and you should find it unlike the previous show title), and because I like making up words. It doesn’t have the whole back catalogue yet (only two storytime episodes up so far) because I don’t have a hugely expensive hosting plan, but this’ll be enough for now and hopefully a while into the future.

I hope that’s useful for you. Thanks for listening.

storytime (in seniors’ centres and on the radio)

One of the things I don’t get a chance to do so much since moving into my new position as a librarian for adults is read stories to people. So it’s kind of cool that with our library branch being renovated (and me being redeployed to a branch where I am kind of extraneous a lot of the time) I get to do something about that.

Jen — one of my adult-librarian colleagues — and I have been visiting seniors’ homes in our town and just reading stories to them. There are two of us so we can alternate and not get too tired, and so the listeners get a bit of a range of voices. Originally we looked at the kinds of stories recommended by “library services” books for this kind of program and oh my glob were they terrible. All Reader’s Digest “ain’t that just the way things work?” sorts of schmaltzy/down-homey bullshit. Instead we just grabbed books and stories we liked and read them to the seniors.

Yes, many of them fall asleep while we’re reading Ivan Coyote and Neil Gaiman and Lydia Davis, but we see that as a good thing. It’s soothing to be read to, and adults don’t get enough of that. And sometimes there are cookies after our 30-60 minutes are up!

A couple of weeks ago we ran into a couple of young visitors who were leaving and they saw our stacks of books (we always bring too many) and they asked what we’d be doing. Jen gave a bit of an elevator pitch and the family members smiled. Then the guy said “that crowd in there is hoping you work blue” and we all laughed. (We do tend to shy away from really cuss-laden stories for the old people.)

And because that’s been working in person I’m starting to do some grown-up storytime shows on Librarians on the Radio with Emily Orr (who also works on LotR proper). Yesterday was the first official one on the Changes broadcast, but I did a couple of independent test episodes as training on the boards at CHLY. I call them Librarianautica shows because I like the idea of these shows being a collection of stories a wandering librarian gathers. You can listen to yesterday’s show — Wild Musical Beasts — here. Apologies for the 30-second CHLY promo off the top.

at the bc library association conference #bclc2015

I’m heading down to Richmond for #BCLC2015 tomorrow. This year I’m going to be on 2 panels and work I did is receiving an award at the AGM on Saturday (though it’ll be people who make far more money than me who’ll be accepting it).

Both of these are panels, so it’s not like you’d have to listen to me gibbering the whole time. Come on out!

F16 – Looking Inwards and Out, New Professionals in Libraries
Friday 11:30am-12:15pm Location: Westminster 2

Fluctuating between idealism and cynicism, those new to library work can be passionate about the profession – for better or for worse. Join a diverse and enthusiastic panel for a discussion of the issues, concerns, and dreams of those who are new to, and just entering the field. What does the profession look like to new professionals? What does “professional” mean to new professionals? How would they like to shape the library world, and how is the library world shaping them? Is it constraining them or allowing them to grow in unexpected ways, or both? What are the issues within librarianship, or that librarianship is concerned with, that are most important to those who have recently entered the field? This session promises a lively discussion covering topics from what advocacy should look like and how we define ourselves as professionals, to what we can do to help with literacies, open access and creativity in our communities and our workplaces.

F22 – Oh Glorious Failures! Lightning Talks on How to Succeed Through Failure
Friday 1:30-2:45pm Location: Elmbridge

Conference sessions are often about putting our best foot forward, about sharing what went well, and about glossing over what didn’t work out. This session aims to turn things around by focusing on those times when we tried something new, or different, or innovative and, well, it didn’t quite work. By talking openly about failures and what we learned from them, we aim to explore ways to encourage innovation among staff, and to demonstrate what it means to build a creative institution that’s responsive to the needs of community members and other stakeholders. If failure is the only certainty in uncertain times, then it’s time to take back the word ʺfailureʺ and make it part of our success. Accepting failure as a tool for growth can be a successful method to give staff a safe way to take risks and innovate. During the session, staff from a variety of libraries (public, academic, special) will give lightning talks on their ʺglorious failuresʺ, how they overcame them (if they did) and share any insights gained. The goal of the session will be to transform this F-word, so attendees can unlearn the fear of failure and explore how to fail successfully. Through others’ stories of failure we will not only learn ways to avoid repeating mistakes, but how to effectively get it wrong the first time.

And then on Saturday VanCAF is happening. Good weekend ahoy. And if you’re interested in listening to the test episodes of my CHLY storytime show Librarianautica they’re on the Internet Archive too.

social media is only a means of supporting creativity

Following up on my last post, I’m not so sure that “web 2.0 itself implies creativity.” I mean, I get the Clay Shirky idea that making something is better than watching Gilligan’s island so making LOLcats is fine, but I think remix culture allows for a lot of laziness.

Some of the most interesting Web 2.0 projects I’ve seen are about rewarding creators who can work outside the traditional model. Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell (she’s locking herself in a room to create for a week) raised thousands of dollars on Kickstarter (over five times her original goal so now they’re going to make more stuff with the extra money). She’s helped raise the question of whether Kickstarter is more important/useful than Arts Council grants for artists.

So yes, social media is helping fuel that kind of creativity, but it’s important to note that people are giving her this money because of her talent. The connections are about funding and supporting creativity, not inspiring it.

I love Neil Gaiman as much as the next person, and his presence on Twitter is huge. But, I don’t love him because of that social media scene. I love the work he does. Making meaning from the banal is a nice idea about social media’s relationship to creativity, but the fact is that most of the banal is still pretty banal, even when it’s aggregated.

I guess I’m saying that “fostering connections, building networks, creating new knowledge” isn’t creative in and of itself. It has to be supportive of some actual talent.