29 January 2009

A Pit in My Stomach

I was planning on blogging two events I attended at Midwinter but this seemed much more important.

I have just learned about the death of two librarians on their way home from ALA. Here is the story.

I am so sorry for their families, for the libraries, for their communities. It's a great sadness that in the midst of serving their community and their profession that this should happen. It puts a pit in my stomach.

They are in my thoughts.

22 January 2009

On my way to Denver

Boarding pass---check.
Shuttle reservation----check.
Room reservation----check.
More reading material than I could possibly get through----check.

I AM READY to hit up Denver for Midwinter. See you there!

20 January 2009

CHANGE I believe in

There are more things to say on a day like this than I can possibly articulate in a blog post. The attitude of students on campus, the feeling that seeps through screens and into our homes as we watched Obama take office, the excitement I feel in my belly---I believe it is HOPE.

But let's keep it together, my husband would say. Breath, my best friend would remind me.


Let's start out with THIS--the new White House website. We've got a blog, we've got a Director of New Media, and most excitedly, we've got an Office of Public Liaison. It is this last one that is particularly exciting to me.

For those of you that haven't been following Change.gov or the Citizen's Briefing Book, everyday people, you and me, have been welcomed to give suggestions, ideas, and ask questions to the President-Elect. One of the ideas floated was to keep the people's voice at the table. And it is happening.

Which brings me to the idea of collaboration and access. Yesterday, a professor who always jokes with me about my penchant for suggesting wikis admitted that he didn't even know what a wiki was. Another professor we were walking with gave him a brief explanation, essentially getting at the opportunity wikis provides for more than just a webmaster to make changes to a website. It enabled people to share in the responsibility of providing information. Wikis offer us all to share our knowledge rather than expecting one person to know it all.

Switch screens to Michael Sauer's post on making a wiki.whitehouse.gov.:

In the article “America Online” in the latest issue of Wired (#17.02 which isn’t online yet) I cam across the following paragraph:

The incoming administration is still working to assess the implications of the Presidential Records Act, the post-Nixon legislation requiring the preservation of all White House written communications. But that means that once any page goes up on the White House site, it can’t be altered, only archived and replaced, greatly slowing down the process of modifying and enhancing pages.

So, ok, I understand this and think it’s a good thing. But I instantly thought that this would be the perfect use for a wiki. Just have Wiki software be the underlying system that ran www.whitehouse.gov and you’d instantly have a traceable record, and archived copy, of every version of the page that’s ever been from day-one forward.

I’d like to think that at least one of the smart people on the transition team had already thought of this but I’ll be submitting it to the folks at www.change.gov just in case they haven’t.

Where am I going with all of this?

It brings me back, again, to the thought I had first thing this morning as I rode the bus to work. Today, a very special day, was about more than just Barack, or being an American, but about participating. Way back when, Barack Obama was the Underdog in the presidential campaign. And it was us, the people, that shared information about him, engaged our friends and neighbors in his campaign, and even brought him to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on this cold, January day. Barack Obama's presidency marks a change in our ideas about action, participation, collaboration, and change itself.

And that is change I believe in.

Happy Inauguration Day to you all.

16 January 2009

Great Thoughts Manifested

Such a wonderful piece in the Times on the Library of Congress. It's nice to see it being lauded for the remarkable thing it is in itself. Perhaps it's my affinity for big reading rooms, remnants of my rare books days I think, but there is something about libraries, especially the big ones that leaves me speechless.

Here's my favorite part: "If great thoughts — not just the idle reflections of the moment, but the really big ideas — could take physical shape, this is probably what they would look like. The sensation you feel is one of mental levitation — like wisdom, only more exciting."

Well said. Very well said.