Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for November, 2012

Finding the Sweet Spot – professional learning

Posted by lpearle on 29 November 2012

As the year draws to a close many of us spend time evaluating what and how we’re doing. For me, it’s also a time to think about my professional development and what my Return on Investment is for each method.

There are a ton of library-related conferences out there for us to attend: EduCon, ALA Annual, ALA Midwinter, ALA’s divisional conferences (like AASL’s bienniel conference, or ACRL’s annual one, not to mention YALSA’s biennial Literature Symposium), SLJ’s Leadership Summit, ISTE, NCTE/ALAN, IBBY and many more, not to mention local and state organizations’ events.  I see some people constantly flitting from one to another and I wonder two things: don’t their home libraries miss them? and what are they actually getting from each event?

Yes, each has a different focus and attracts different people.  And obviously if you’re presenting you’ve got good reason to go.  But if you’re not presenting, are you actually learning new things, or is it more reiterating what you heard – albeit in slightly different words or format – in a previous session at a previous conference?  There’s definite value to the networking opportunities, and if you’re a solo librarian it’s incredibly validating and heartwarming to be with others you can talk to on a professional level.  But what is the ROI?

It’s not just about conferences – how many organizations, elists, publications, blogs, twitter feeds, etc. can you follow sensibly?  For me, it’s about finding the few people who are great aggregators and following them.  Otherwise I find that I’m ignoring too many tweets and posts, the really good stuff getting lost in the overwhelming flood of information.
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Posted in Conferences, Musings, Professional organizations, Work Stuff | 2 Comments »

Finding the sweet spot – customer service

Posted by lpearle on 26 November 2012

Recently I had a Close Encounter of the Smarmy Kind with a salesman.  A friend and I walked into Men’s Warehouse to buy a new suit (for him) and suddenly – there he was.  Our new BFF, joking about Brooklyn and missing the Good Life in the Big City.  And during the upsell, the whispered “just go along – my manager is right over there” and louder, “So, Sir, you’re sure I can’t find you a new shirt?  Of course you need a new tie with your lovely new suit!” The suit needed alteration, and the sports jacket we wanted wasn’t in stock so we were to come back later when the tailor had worked his magic; then the jacket needed alterations when it arrived.  Again, our BFF salesperson was smarming all over us, urging us to look at these leather jackets… that vest. I picked up the jacket in August and thought it was all over.  Then in October, there was a phone call asking when we were picking up the jacket.  Several conversations later, it turns out that the jacket there was the ‘placeholder’ in the wrong size.

Bear with me – this is connected to libraries!
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Posted in Musings, Rants, School Libraries, Work Stuff | 1 Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 21 November 2012

Thanksgiving edition: various websites, apps and links that have caught my attention over the past few months.

Books, Reading, Etc.
  • Are you in LinkedIn?  I was just pointed to the Plain Language Advocates (great debate on the one or two spaces after a period issue!)
  • Apparently, according to The Atlantic, there’s a new term for readers, cross-unders (those of us who read YA books but aren’t YA ourselves).  When I look at their list of Types of Readers, I fit several categories but that’s the one I resent. No one called me a “cross-over” reader when I was a teen and reading adult books, so please don’t insult me now by saying I’m a cross-over reader. (Thanks to LizB for the wrap-up).
  • The beauty of Penguin Books.  ’nuff said.
  • Considering getting an e-reader for your kids? What Parents Need to Know.
  • I use BookCollector, but if you haven’t cataloged your collection, Book Crawler looks nice (see on the #Alan12 feed)

School Life

Tech, Tools and Other Stuff

  • Rather than carry a large second wallet filled with loyalty cards, I’m using KeyRing (note: I don’t get the ‘rewards’ or ‘deals’, but it’s a great way to lessen wallet load!)
  • Have you thought about personal archiving?  Watch the LoC’s Mike Ashenfelder’s presentation.
  • If you weren’t affected by Superstorm Sandy, this Hertiage Preservation App may be really helpful for future planning. And if you were affected it may help now.
  • Not sure how this fits with Twitter’s rules, but MyTweetMag is pretty nifty. (via Joyce)
  • What a neat publishing/curation tool: Yumpu.  So many educational uses.  And for presentations/self-directed learning, try MentorMob.

And finally, because it’s Thanksgiving, step away from your keyboard and take a cyberbreak.

Posted in Books, Links, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | 1 Comment »

Jumping to Conclusions

Posted by lpearle on 17 November 2012

Maybe  I’m alone in this, but I use Facebook for personal connections, not professional ones.  I’ve been asked (nicely, but with that “and we really really think you should do this” undertone) to ‘Like’ various professional pages and groups, and that’s not going to happen.  It’s not that I don’t support the group or am ashamed of my affiliation with them, but they’re professional and my preference is to keep my usage there personal.  I know each and every one of my friends there, most of whom are former classmates or family.

Then I read this about Facebook and the new couples pages.  One word: ugh.  It’s why I wouldn’t ever be officially in a relationship on Facebook.  Again, it would have nothing to do with being ashamed of the other person, just a belief that 1. not everyone needs to see my personal relationship as a Relationship, and 2. we have different friends and interests and sometimes things are separate for a reason.

Recently my college alma mater was in the news.  Sigh.  It did mean that I and a friend, who graduated a year behind me, talked about the school for a change.  I’d also had dinner with his parents a week before, and again, the school came up.  In his father’s case, he’s reached an age where the school has felt comfortable asking him to “remember them in his future plans” (in other, less tactful words, “leave us money when you die”).   Neither my friend nor I are on Hamilton’s radar, but I’m sure that if either of us did something that meant fame (and, more importantly, wealth) they’d find us.

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Posted in Life Related, Musings | 2 Comments »

Bad practice

Posted by lpearle on 12 November 2012

We call it practice because we’re not perfect yet, right?

The other day I was with my aunt, helping her with an errand.  As we drove, we talked about a variety of things.  Now, I’m not the most computer savvy of my family (my cousin probably wins that title, but there are others between his level and mine) but I may just be the most socially networked of us all.  The talk turned to Facebook, and my aunt wanted my help with it.

My aunt is very socially active and wanted to do more for the people affected by Hurricane Sandy.  She’s a member of a very active synagogue, a very socially networked one, at that.  The information she wants to access is apparently only available via Facebook, not on their website or other communication tool.  And therein lies the problem: a private person, my aunt doesn’t want everyone on Facebook to be able to message her – she may not even want to “friend” her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews (let alone sister and brother-in-law).  Given Facebook’s privacy issues, I’m not sure she can do that.

Several of my friends and other members of my family are equally loathe to get on Facebook, and few see a need for Twitter.  They’re amazed and confused as to why I am on either, and why I need to be.  Even more, however, they’re angry that increasing numbers of organizations are only posting information that way.  One high school friend refused to contribute to the alumnae newsletter because it was going to be published solely online (a one-time deal before going back to print issues).  To me, it’s bad practice: if you want to communicate well with everyone in your constituency group, you need multiple venues for presenting that information.  Facebook’s great – ditto Twitter – but what about e-lists? your website? an old-fashioned newsletter? Doing so can only alienate some of your supporters, and you’ll never know how much you could have gained from them.

The lesson: don’t disenfranchise some of your supporters by limiting the ways in which they get information to a few social networks… do remember that not everyone prefers to be ‘out there’ in public.


Posted in Musings | 1 Comment »

Post-Sandy, pre-Athena

Posted by lpearle on 7 November 2012

What, you didn’t know that the Weather Channel has decided to name nor’easters?  Well, they have.

When the lights go out and the wind is gusting at levels previously unexperienced, it’s a little scary.  Maybe a lot scary.  And when I’m scared I tend to revert to my childhood (doesn’t everyone?).  Last week, with Sandy bearing down on my town and home was one of those reversion times.  And now, with Athena on her way…  Anyway, September was a particularly difficult month for me – to be honest, October wasn’t much better – and in speaking with my mother, I called it my “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month”.  That led her to wonder if she (or my father) had read Viorst’s book to me when I was younger… the answer is no, but that’s because I was 10 and a little beyond picture books (I was reading Lord of the Rings and Count of Monte Cristo).

That conversation, though, prompted me to send a question to my high school classmates: what was your favorite childhood book?  Of the 40 people queried, about 25 responded.  Here were the answers:

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Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

I am not a digital native

Posted by lpearle on 3 November 2012

I’ve been using email for more than 40 years (since before Ray Tomlinson selected “@” to delimit host names). But there are some things that I won’t use it for.

(background: this was in an e-mail one of my cousins sent me, after I’d agreed that ‘old-fashioned’ was best – particularly when sending a condolence message. I wish my supposed digital native students understood the appropriate use of e-mail and texts!)

Posted in Techno Geekiness | 1 Comment »