28 August 2009

Some things remain the same

It's a beautiful day in Vermont. Sunny. The perfect temperature and a gentle breeze. Today is the last day that I could bring Rigi to the office. He's spent three or sometimes four days a week curled up on a chair in my office throughout the summer. School starts on Monday and the first year students descended onto campus today. I had hoped to listen to the President's welcome out on the quad but as soon as people started clapping, Rigi perked up a bit too much. So we went for a walk.

As we were walking, I came up to four neighborhood kids selling lemonade. 10 cents a cup. And I started thinking about selling lemonade when I was a kid. And about my parents dropping me off at college. What a sunny, beautiful day that was. How excited I was. How nervous I was. How strange it was for my parents to be dropping me off. How strange it was to see my dad well up with tears as they pulled away from the gates at Smith.

Today, as I met parents and eavesdropped on their conversations as I walked around, their excitement for their son or daughter was palpable. And so was the undercurrent of nervousness emanating from the students.

iPhones. Facebook. Twitter. Ebooks. Kindles.

The essentials for college life may change.

Some things remain the same.

04 August 2009

Thinking of Louisville

Thanks to Michael Porter for letting us know about the terrible situation at Louisville Free Public Library. Greg Schwartz is one of my closest friends from library school and he has been passionate about his work at the Louisville Free since Day 1. My thoughts are with him, the staff, and all the patrons at Louisville.

03 August 2009

Why I didn't share my Library Day in the Life

Last week, a number of colleagues and friends posted their Library Day in a Life. This was one of those memes that made me stop. And while I think Bobbi Newman rocks for putting this together, I have been asking myself what I can learn from the experience. What is it that librarians are trying to acheive by participating in this meme? What does it tell us about ourselves? About our profession?

The first thing that it tells me is that we lead incredibly varied lives. It really makes me proud to be in a profession that brings so much intellectual and creative energy to the information stream.

However, at the same time, I ask myself who we are writing these memes for. It would be one thing if we were taking these various "day in the life" scenarios and publicizing them in a way that encouraged patrons and other professions to rethink what they mean when they say "librarian". All those folks that cock an eyebrow or give a little giggle and a joke about Dewey...those folks could learn so much by reading these expositions on our profession.

But that's not what the library blogosphere is up to with this meme, really. And it really wasn't until I saw Amanda McNeil's tweet this morning that it really struck me as to why I didn't participate in this meme:

Amanda's link to an article wasn't what took my attention here. It was the vibe that she picks up on. I love being part of a group of people that are proud of the work we do. And I love working with people that speak up and speak out. But this meme leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth in part because I don't see the meme itself having a role in our relevance, or our creativity, or out sociality (is that a word?!). Are we using these memes as collaboration tools? As ways to develop our own practices based on the practices of others? If you are, BRAVO! And share that! THAT is what I want to hear about. THAT is what I want to see happen with learning more about the nitty gritty of our day. THAT is what makes the technology we feel so comfortable with and the wealth of librarians being social media butterflies (had to steal Andy's metaphor there!) so valuable to our profession. But just sharing what you do on a daily basis--that doesn't have value in and of itself. And as Steven Bell rightly points out, we need to be spending our hours adding value to the learning process. And not just in the classroom. But amongst ourselves. At our conferences. At our Tweetups. On our blogs. I'm not saying we should abandon fun, laughs, and humor on our blogs (although, I haven't seen a single Library-Day-In-The-Life that admits to checking their Facebook or watching a YouTube or reading the New York Times). But I do think that the intentionality to learning that we bring into our classrooms could have a valuable role in our social media.

What do you think? Have you gotten something from the Library Day in the Life posts that have given you more value than I am allotting? Share it! I am dying to know.