come work near me!

If you are, or want to be, a teen librarian and want to live in the West, you can be the first-ever teen librarian at the Park County Public Library in Cody, just 30 miles to the north of me! You get to work in a beautiful, newly renovated building with a coffee shop that serves lunch every day; you get to build a program from scratch; and you get to live fifty miles from Yellowstone. What more could you want? You’ll also be working in the same library system as me, although not at the same library.

Anyway, check it out and apply if you are at all interested!

technology advisory

I have a long post about library instruction and teaching fifth graders to use Wikipedia, and I have an extremely long post about ALA, OCLC, and some other library initialisms I can’t recall at the moment, but for now I’d just like to make a quick post to complement Karin Dalziel’s opening salvo and Dorothea’s and Meredith’s subsequent blog posts.

I’ve always thought that if I ever got to write a job ad for a library, or at least for my public library, it would simply say, “Must like books and computers.”

One of the skills I don’t have that I wish I did is that I am not a very fast reader, and I’m kind of a picky reader. That gives me a certain set back in a primary part of my job. The question I get asked more than any other is, “Hey, what’s a good book to read?” I haven’t usually read most of the books on our new books shelf. I’ve read only a sliver of the other 20,000 odd books we have in our collection. I can’t always answer that question with a personal recommendation, but luckily, I have some skills that help me out. I know how to say, “well, what are some other books you’ve liked?” I know how to figure out what kinds of things a particular reader is looking for in a book: fast pacing, say, or serial killers, or books about middle-aged women breaking out of their shells, or books set in historical China, or stories where nobody dies. And I know enough about the books in the library that I can usually match people up with something.

That’s the beauty of knowing a little bit about readers advisory: while nothing is a substitute for actually reading the books, you can get pretty far if you know that that book with the cadeuceus on the cover is probably a medical thriller, and the one with the black and red cover and the bold print is probably more violent than the one with the ball of yarn by the fire, even if they are both shelved in the mystery section.

I’ve always taken a similar approach to technology. It isn’t necessary for me, or for any given librarian, to know how to do a customized installation of MediaWiki or Drupal, or write a program, or provide IM reference service. What we do need to know is that there is technology out there and enough about said technology that we can identify what sort of technology might best fit our needs.

When I was planning our website, I knew that I wanted something a little content-managey to run it, but that it didn’t have to be very complicated. I knew I wanted to be able to teach other people to use the system easily, and I knew I wanted to pick something that was likely to be around and supported in a year or two or five. I knew there were websites that ran on content management systems like Drupal or Joomla, and I knew of at least one site that used a wiki, and I knew there were sites that ran on blogging software like Moveable Type or WordPress. In otherwords, I knew a few of the genres of content management systems, I knew of a few examples of people using them, and I had some dim grasp of what kinds of things they could do. I knew about technology in the same way I know about books: I haven’t read all the books, but I know a little bit about them. I don’t like all the books, but I like books enough to be interested even in those I don’t want to read. I don’t know

My mother, who specializes in geriatric psychiatry, says that when medical students come through their psychiatry rotation, there are two things she wants them to know: 1) Geriatric psychiatry exists. 2) There are people who know more about it than I do.

Knowing stuff exists and knowing how to find out more — and enjoying doing so — are, I would argue, the main things you need. Must like books. And computers.

library camp of the west: join us in denver in october!

I’m good at having ideas. “We should do an oral history project podcast at my library!” “I should learn PHP in the next two weeks so I can build an application to get people to donate money for furniture for the library!” “I should blog this! [whatever “this” might be]” I am not generally so good at follow through. But today I am happy to announce that, due to the efforts of Joe Kraus and Steve Lawson, one of my ideas is actually going to happen:

Library Camp of the West will be held at the University of Denver on Friday, October 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can more about how Steve and I have been tossing this idea around for a couple of years over on his blog. Until Steve had the good fortune to get to know Joe, this unconference was so unconferency that we didn’t even have a date or a place. Thanks to Joe, we now have both. Now we just need some attendees and some ideas.

If you can come, sign yourself up on the wiki, and if you have an idea, add it there, too. If this sounds intriguing but you’re still in the dark about wikis, drop me a line at newrambler at gmail dot com. Library camps have traditionally been heavily focused on the technological parts of librarianship, but I don’t think they have to be. The idea of library camp is to get a bunch of smart library people together to share ideas — and maybe even get a barn and put on a show. I hope you can join us!

my tech-nots

After Jenna and Rochelle. . .

It once took a friend and me three or four different tries to watch a movie. First his DVD player got busted. Then we tried to use the set up our friends had at the coffee shop, but there were way too many remotes. Then we tried someone else’s setup, which I think finally worked when someone else came in to press buttons for us. I myself only recently acquired a DVD player. So far it hasn’t given me problems, but we’ll see. . . .

I’ve never used Skype or done any video or audio chatting.

I had an iPod, but it just bit the dust, and it pisses me off so much that they’re only made to last a few years that I’m not going to get another one. Besides, I like listening to my LPs and cassettes. I plan to go on using both until they completely fall apart. Occasionally I think I ought to get some kind of mp3 player that I could use to listen to downloadable audio books, but really, the process of downloading audiobooks and synching them to devices is one of the banes of my existence.

I am generally intimidated by cash registers, fax machines, and telephones with more than one line.

I don’t know how to use Photoshop (or the GIMP), although that’s something I’d like to learn (and is on the endless list of things I’m planning to teach myself, if I ever get around to it).

I have nothing against gaming, but I don’t do it myself. Ditto Second Life. (Well, I may have some issues with second life–if we’re going to bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old, let’s do it here in first life first, please.)

Probably as a result of being a life-long Mac person, I am extremely ignorant about computer hardware. When people start talking about core processors and graphics cards and things, I just hope they aren’t going to ask for my advice.

I get asked a lot of techie questions both in my library system and in my town. A few I can answer right away; some I can’t answer at all. And the rest — well, I do my best to find answers. After all, that’s my job, right?

graduation pictures

In the year or so that I have been at the Meeteetse Branch Library, we have done a lot of good things. We’ve had summer reading programs for both kids and grown-ups. We’ve had authors visit. We’ve relabelled all the children’s books and almost all the adult fiction in order to get rid of the wretched Cutter numbers. We’ve acquired more books, movies, audio books, and CDs. We’ve had story times for preschoolers and book discussion groups for adults. We’ve had classes on digital photography. But nothing, I repeat, nothing has been anywhere near as successful or as popular as our current bulletin board.

Yeah, you heard it: bulletin board.

Every year the school does a bulletin board featuring pictures of the graduating seniors from various points in their lives. (There are 16 graduating seniors this year, which is a pretty big class for around here.) This year, we at the library thought it would be neat if we did a bulletin board featuring senior pictures from faculty and staff. We collected the pictures (many of them we got from old Meeteetse schools yearbooks that we have here in the library), scanned them and resized them so they were all the same height, and put them up on the bulletin board outside our door.

They’ve been up for a couple of weeks now, and though traffic has died down somewhat, you still have to make your way through a crowd some times if you want to get from the library to the office. Eavesdropping around the bulletin board provides no end of entertainment: “Dude, Miss Linda was hot!” Kids stop by to look in between classes, as do teachers. Public library patrons (we’re a joint school/public library) often wander over to take a look, too. And everyone talks–about the hairstyles, about the clothes, about how much (or how little) everyone has changed.

That’s the crux of it, I think: we have simultaneously changed enormously and not changed a bit. Some were born here; the rest of us arrived in Meeteetse through some hidden mechanism of decision or fate. It is rich and strange and quite wonderful. You should be able to pick me out without too much difficulty.

mensch for hire

Because most people are more timely bloggers than I am, and because I occupy a small corner of the ecosystem, I don’t expect anyone reading this in libraryland doesn’t already know that Walt Crawford got the boot from OCLC and is available for hire

I do wonder if there isn’t some weird underhanded Walt Crawford for Roy Tennant trade going on, but Walt has assured me that’s not the case.  And that brings me to what I really want to say.  When I heard the news, I e-mailed Walt to say, “what the heck? did they trade you for Roy Tennant?” and Walt wrote back.  I’d like to echo Rochelle’s sentiments:

Aside from his general laudableness (honest, that’s a word), Walt has distinguished himself to many of us through his collegiality and generosity.  Distinguished and influential don’t always translate into accessible, but Walt has been a good friend and sparring partner to many of us not-so-luminous front-liners. . . . We owe him no less and wish him the best.

Yeah.  What she said.  Good luck, Walt, with whatever comes next.

let my audio go!

Amazon plans to roll out DRM-free music later this year.  Publishers Lunch wonders if DRM-free audio books can be far behind (sorry, no link for the story, which is in an e-mail newsletter from Publishers Marketplace–I highly recommend it though–the free version, which I get, is still full of fascinating publishing news).  Librarians like me fondly wish for the day.

dear NetLibrary/OCLC

Meredith notes that conference season has started.  I myself am not going to any conferences this year, and thus I will not be able to harass engage in thoughtful discussion with any vendors.

A few months ago I was grappling with some difficulties with NetLibrary’s downloadable audio books.  As usual, their help pages proved not terribly helpful.  Using the Google was somewhat more helpful, and what I was able to find I added to our wiki.  But then I thought, gosh, wouldn’t it be great if NetLibrary provided web forums where people could post and answer questions?  I mentioned the issue in passing in an e-mail to our state systems librarian, who said, “great idea; mention it to them next time you’re at a conference.”

I wasn’t going to any conferences then, either, so I decided at least I’d drop an e-mail into the black hole that is  But perhaps you are going to a conference.  Perhaps you also have frustrations with NetLibrary downloadable audio books.  Perhaps you would like to suggest the forums idea to the nice representatives in the exhibits.  In case you do, or in case some NetLibrary person out there is reading this, here’s the full text of my e-mail:

From: Laura Crossett [lcrossett at will dot state dot wy dot us]
Sent: Mon 1/8/2007 1:29 PM
Subject: forum for NetLibrary/Recorded Books

Dear OCLC:

Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered establishing some kind of an online forum for NetLibrary/Recorded Books?  Even in my tiny branch library, we have a number of patrons who have had difficulties with eAudiobooks that aren’t covered anywhere in the official FAQs.  Sometimes I’m able to find the answer by fiddling around; sometimes I have luck by just searching the Web, since sometimes a blogger or someone else will have written about the problem.

But going to that much work seems inefficient to me, especially since there are probably many other people having the same problem that I am at any given time.  Wouldn’t it be great if there were a central location where we could ask questions and answer questions posed by other users?  I think so.

As you probably know, forums, message boards, and wikis are popular features of support for many kinds of software.  My e-mail program, Fastmail, has them; WordPress, which I use for my blogs, has a great many.  Firefox, Thunderbird, and their extensions have them; even Microsoft has some user forums. 

I think OCLC could do a great service for the library community by providing some kind of a forum for NetLibrary/Recorded Books.  Doing so would allow librarians to do more easily what they already do best–collaborate and share information.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Laura Crossett
Branch Manager
Meeteetse Branch, Park County Library
2107 Idaho / PO Box 129
Meeteetse, WY 82433
307.868.2248 (phone & fax)
AIM: theblackmolly | Y!M: lcrossett