Archives for posts with tag: optimism

Ok. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. The fact is, I’ve been learning the ropes at the Ottawa Public Library – in between training and meetings, I get to do some actual work. What work? Well, as an Integrated Library Systems Librarian, I get to bang literal and metaphorical wrenches against the largely metaphorical pipes that keep information flowing around the library.

I’ve latched onto the metaphor of being something like a Victorian steam engineer, working away in a gritty bunker trying to keep this big ol’information mill spinning. Without all the Steampunkish insinuations, it is a cool enough idea. Never mind that I cross through a children’s library to get to the office where my desk is…

Anyways, I’ve been remiss in following up on some posts I’ve half-started. So, in the interest of clearing my slate, here’s a run-down.

1.  The New Surrey BC Main Library looks like a space base. Cool.

2. A paper released by the Public Lending Right Commission gives the  state of affairs vis-a-vis eBooks in Canada. It’s a bit watery, but the point is things have to change for eBooks to remain viable for public libraries (duh…).

3.  A cool graffiti taxonomy archive.

4. Author Lev Grossman declares himself to be crochety about eBooks via the New York Times. Nice art with the article, though.


The world should learn not to mess with librarians!

Last month, I wrote about the Toronto Public Library’s hard stance against proposed cuts. Well, after some gaffs from the Mayor’s brother, city councillor Doug Ford , and lots of discussion,  Torontonians are starting to see a shift.

From the Toronto Star:

Another councillor in Mayor Rob Ford’s inner circle is backing away from a proposal to close libraries.

When asked Wednesday if she would support library closures to save money, Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) said “no, of course not” and that if anything, branches should be better utilized to host more city programs.

“I don’t think there’s a will on council to close libraries,” said Nunziata. “I think we have to make better use of what we have… these are great facilities for programming.”

First it was right-winger James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre). Then TTC chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence). Now Nunziata, who is the council speaker and one of Ford’s longest and most loyal supporters.

Nunziata’s split is the clearest sign yet that libraries will likely be safe come fall when council is left to consider the service cut recommendations proposed by KPMG during the core service review.[source]

Not a sure thing, though. It’s great to see the city rallying and staying on the city council’s back. Keep it up, Toronto. Here’s some fight music to help!

Torontonians can take action by contacting their city councillors and/or by signing the online petition.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: giver of cuts or promises of cuts or promises of cuts then paying more.

The Toronto Public Library (Canada’s largest library system) has recently been threatened with cuts. Having already seen one branch take a hit, the city’s library workers and supporters are taking a hard line. In brash awesomeness, they’ve issued a warning to city councillors looking to wield a heavy knife.

The Toronto Public Library Workers Union has a message for city councillors: If you want to keep your seat, support your local libraries.

Results of a survey commissioned by the union and released Wednesday found that half of Toronto residents said it would affect their vote “a great deal” if they knew a candidate had supported closing a library branch.

The survey sends “very clear” message, union president Maureen O’Reilly said. Of more than 1,000 respondents, about three-quarters said they disagreed with closing branches to save money. The library board recently approved a $184 million budget that led to a decision to close the Metro Hall branch. “We have no reason to believe this trend won’t continue,” O’Reilly said, adding that shutting branches adversely affects seniors and kids.[source]

The numbers seem to be in the TPL’s favour:

This message emerges from a Forum Research poll conducted on July 4, 2011 which found that three-quarters of Toronto residents disagree with the idea of closing local library branches as a way of solving the city’s deficit (74%), and more than one half disagree “strongly” (54%). When it is their own local branch which is threatened, the proportion of those who “strongly disagree” increases to two-thirds (64%).

Not only are library branch closures off the table as far as Toronto residents are concerned, more than half disagree with privatizing the delivery of any city services (55%), and more than one third disagree “strongly” (38%). When the Toronto Public Library is mentioned as a privatization target, seven-in-ten Torontonians disagree (71%), more than one half “strongly” (55%).[source]

Hopefully, this sort of information will make the budget hounds think twice.

Torontonians can take action by contacting their city councillors and/or by signing the online petition.

I heard about Jane McGonigal and her book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and how They Can Change the World through a radio doc on CBC’s Spark.

She also has a TED talk.

Is this something libraries can get in on? Libraries have always been a sort of augmented reality tool (using analogue books (old fashioned information access) and now with more high-tech Internet based tools). It’s only one more step to add a game layer. The NYPL’s Find the Future is an example that combines learning and adventure through a mix of the physical library and laptops or smartphones. Gaming and reality are no longer so separate.

McGonigal may come off as a little optimistic, but she’s pushing an emerging idea. You can check out some of McGonigal’s games here.

What through video games is possible? Collaboration and crowd-sourcing scientific research? Breaking down social barriers? I don’t know if video games and gaming CAN solve all our problems. I do think that it is necessary to rethink radically what we can accomplish since it’s a media form that has pretty much overtaken EVERY other media we’ve ever come up with.

The database I work with was down for a bit this morning, so I had little bit of time to peruse the ALA’s new Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library.

I am intrigued by their notion of the Four Dimensions (see the illustration above).  Besides being awesomely impossible to graph on a  2D chart, it’s a decent representation of the winds driving library evolution right now.

It’s also about strategic decision making. There is a certain amount of push-and-pull embedded in the 4D concept. A move on one spectrum will impact a library’s a place on one of the others.  Can a “Creation” driven library also function well with an “Archive” and “Individual” focus?

The suggestion being:  public libraries must choose what they want to be good at, since they cannot be good at everything. Read the rest of this entry »

Again! A week done! Personally, I have my fingers crossed for some sun and some ribs! But right now, it means Library Sound Track day. This week, I have for you a couple new Canadian finds and a slightly older, more New Jerseyier fav.

Little Scream

Doug Paisley

Titus Andronicus

Have a great weekend!

I’m sure that we can all agree that writing cover letters is the worst. Any MLIS grad can probably relate to how frustrating it can be. Like when you’re excited about a job that is just a little off of where you usually plant your applications, and you just can’t get the mix in your letter right.

Recently, I found a posting that looked like it was written for me (except for a few things I’d have to pick up on the fly, but hey that’s what comes with new jobs). I sat down to write the cover letter, and bim bam boom a few hours later I was still staring at only a few sentences.

Now, there is a lot of pretty straight forward cover letter advice out there. The problem is that the questions involved are far from formulaic and almost demand existential guesses: Why do I want this job? Why will you want me for that job? And so on. With that starting point, boiling my work and school life down to a tasty demi-glace of a letter leaves my mind annoyingly blank. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Futurists off to the races.

It’s been a pretty solid week, and it has left me feeling very librarian-y. So, in honour of that and of Friday here are some of my workday soundtrack highlights.

Stars (remixed by Final Fantasy).

Some vintage Broken Social Scene.

Newish Russian Futurists.

Have a great weekend!

I will be here.

I’m going to New York City for the first time ever for any reason this weekend. And, let me tell you I am gosh darn excited (and a little nervous. It is a huge, dense, epically mythic metropolis, after all. It is bigger than anything this Canadian boy has every seen before.)

Of all the things to see, my heart is set on the NYPL’s Map Room. Oh yes. Maps! I’ve wanted to go there since I was a little kid watching PBS in the 80s. There’s more! It’s a great time for a bibliothequeophile to visit since the NYPL is turning 100 and is really working that angle.

So besides sight-seeing, shopping, and whatever else I can find in a city like New York, I will be seriously geeking out. Apologies to my travel companions, in advance.

Also, here’s a cool video of New York’s the collective digital (un)consciousness.

Pastiche—A Collective Composition of New York City, by Ivan Safrin & Christian Marc Schmidt from Christian Marc Schmidt on Vimeo.

Hooded Fang: practice space plus kitten!

It’s the May 2-4 in Canada. In honour of the long weekend, here is a Library SoundTrack post featuring songs for the car, the bus, the deck, the dock, the beach, whatever. Have some fun, crack a beer, get your conversation on. In Canada, this weekend is the summer’s starter pistol. Bang! Let’s go.

First, Seattle’s The Head and the Heart.

Vancouver’s congenial-as-all-get-out Dan Mangan.

Toronto’s Hooded Fang.

and Purity Ring (from somewhere in Canada).

Have a great weekend!