Noteable Secrets

I know, I went straight from MIA due to travel to MIA due to performance-review-time. Hopefully this will all be done next week.

In the meantime, enjoy this delightful example of why you should submit FOIAs: a book on secret Pentagon badges.


Technology: Not Always Progress?

I agree with most of what Rob Neville says in his post, "10 Reasons Why eBooks Suck."

This isn't to negate the fact that there have been times when I've been tickled to find a page I needed scanned in on Google, or when as a distance learner I've been able to read entire volumes while at home in pajamas eating bon-bons responsibly learning about librarianship. (Ahem.) But those circumstances are far, far fewer than the instances that I read in print--either my pleasure-reading of print comics or novels, or the printed-out copies of online articles that read for work and for class. If I need to read something, and not quickly scan it, 80% of the time I'll print it out (excepting email, and in that case if I think I'll read it again, I often print it, as well--with my sincere apologies to trees).

Interestingly enough, I own an e-book reader. Oh, not a dedicated one--but I have a Dell Axim Pocket PC that we bought a few years ago... I think it was 2002. I primarily used it to write my thesis and other grad school homework/research--basically it was like a mini-laptop that I could carry in my purse. I eventually stopped using it because 1) I got a "real" laptop in 2005, 2) I started editing images a lot, and 3) the built-in battery lost its "oomph" after three years. But while I had it, it was handy not only for homework, but it was a handy-dandy e-book reader, too. I downloaded scads of public-domain stuff like Little Women and Ivanhoe, and it was nice to always have a wide selection of reading available in my purse. The back-lit screen also provided a nice solution for reading in bed at night. But if I was at home or at work and print books were handy, I always turned to them. I see ebooks and ebook readers as tools of necessity (or of necessary convenience), but not of pleasure.

Anyway, I don't need to re-state Rob's arguments here--I suggest reading his blog post. But I think it's worth noting, from a "Librarian for Digital Collections" who is a tech junkie and Library 2.0 fan, that sometimes the old-tech solutions are really the most practical.

Plus, as noted ad-infinitum elsewhere, bibliophiles like myself can't get over the feel, look, smell, and other tangibility of books. Until that's somehow available electronically, give me print instead.

Where in the World is Starr Hoffman?

(Not to be confused with Carmen Sandiego.)

So... I've given five presentations and been in four different locations in the past two and a half weeks. Forgive me if I'm slow in responding to email, calls, or even vocal communication--I'm a bit dazed at the moment. (Going through several hundred email messages this morning didn't help ground me further in reality, either.)

Audience at my CRS reports presentation in DC, October 15th.
We estimated about 125 attendees--thanks so much, everyone!

I can't chat long--must get back to the email and general work catch-up, of course--but I must say a huge "thanks!" to everyone who helped me prepare my presentations and to everyone who listened, particularly all the great feedback I've received. I am so appreciative just of the experience to give these presentations, all of which were fabulous, fun, and a learning experience--all those comments were just icing on a very large cake. And thanks to my family, who gave me three days of vacation in the middle of this madness, and who were quite understanding about my crazed schedule and need to be constantly revising PowerPoint files.

And now, back to the long process of getting back into the swing of things.


Not Home Yet...

So, the San Antonio trip/presentations is done, the DC trip and presentation is done, we picked up Bryce, and now we're in Abilene. It's been a packed two weeks! And for once, I've been mostly off-grid--which is both disturbing, and nice. I've been rediscovering the use of the phone for things like checking museum hours, and enjoying the silence of a hotel room with nothing but a comic book in hand (the internet connection having gone bad, and me having not the energy to complain). But a break from email, even for just three days, was a great way to relieve some stress (momentarily, however, as there will be four times as much to deal with when I log in tomorrow).

The DC trip was fantastic--I had a great three days of vacation with Alex and all four of our parents, seeing many thing I didn't have time to see before. And then the FDLP conference was really great--it's nice knowing so many people now. Plus, my presentation went so well and was so packed (upwards of 100 people!) that I was asked to give it again in KC in the spring--w00t! And since Alex's parents stayed while I was in conference, Alex had people to go out and have fun with, which left me feeling at ease about attending meetings I needed to. And even gave me a few hours after my presentation to decompress with that comic book mentioned (Jack of Fables vol. 1, which was as great as I expected). Then I watched part of two of my favorite movies, Star Trek: First Contact, and Stargate (not as great as the series, IMHO, but still awesome, particularly the beginning).

Now I'm in Abilene for HSU Homecoming (i.e. what passes for vacation for us busy folks). I'll be slowly catching up on work and personal email and homework, but I don't expect to be fully back on the grid until Monday. I'm trying this new thing, called unwinding. And unplugged.

(By the way, I do plan to post more about the presentations in SA and DC, as they were both great experiences and things I learned from.... just not while I'm vacationing!)


Midnight Pizza and Blogging

...That's what I'm up to. I'm here in DC (well, Arlington, VA, but who's counting?) with my husband, my parents, and his parents in a 2-bedroom, 1-fold-out couch suite. We're eating pizza because that's about the only thing still serving people on our time zone / travel schedule.

I wanted to blog about the fantastic time I had Monday, giving three related Library 2.0 presentations to the San Antonio Public Libraries staff... and post photos... and all that... but I was busy catching up at work and preparing for this next trip. But if you'd like to see the completed presentations and handouts, they're on my wiki.

I'm going to spend the next three days sight-seeing with family... and probably catching up on work/homework at night in the hotel. Then I'll be attending the Federal Depository Library Program Fall Conference, Monday through Wednesday. I'll update when I can... probably mostly I'll be adding conference notes to my wiki.


"Students Commend Librarians"

It only slightly shocks me that in an op-ed piece in our university newspaper praising librarians, the writers mention Dewey... when we use LC.

Ah, well. The sentiment sure is nice!!!


Banned Books Photos

Just thought you might like to see some images from the past week, since I didn't have time to upload them earlier.


Sweet Success

Our presentation at the DPL North Branch last night was a success! I've got the photos to prove it... but probably won't get around to posting them until, you know, a nice sane month like November.

We spoke collectively for about an hour to an audience of five--and were then pleasantly surprised that they kept us another half-hour-plus with all their questions. We had two UNT faculty members in the audience, a government activist, a librarian, and--wonder of wonders, a high school student. Who wasn't dragged there by force, but actually stayed afterward to ask a very perceptive and involved reference question that Suzanne is now working on. Sian, who has been working with Suzanne to coordinate these kinds of cooperative academic/public library presentations once a month, was thrilled at the turnout, and we were thrilled at the interest. I had never given a presentation where every single audience member had at least one question.

I also found a fantastic opportunity for a book chapter related to the very kind of library outreach that Suzanne and I have been working at. Sure, it's one more thing to add to that list of "to-do," but it would be so, so fantastic if we were accepted.

Now, if I could just get my next slate of PowerPoints completed... I've been trying to snatch time to work on them all week, but have been sidetracked by an application essay, a minor metadata crisis, and the usual plethora of email. My brain periodically sends me wry observations such as, "well, it's job security, right?" I'm trying to ignore these and work.

But I can't wait for Monday--wow, that's a surprising statement. But this Monday is the SAPL program--Theresa Ybarra sent me their program yesterday, and it looks so fantastic that I immediately told two colleagues all about it and how, hmmm, wouldn't it be great if we had something similar. Ah, how I love libraries.


Pardon My Hacking Cough

...Actually, it's not that bad. It just feels that bad. But after two days home sick, I'm back at work.

And I'm about to give the first of my 5 (6?) presentations this month, in a little more than an hour, at the North Branch of Denton Public Library. Melody Kelly (my boss's boss), Suzanne Sears (my boss), and I are going to give a three-part talk about censorship of government information, in honor of--you guessed it--Banned Books Week. If you'd like to see my wiki notes, handouts, or lecture text, you can always snag it off my wiki.

I've got my three presentations for San Antonio Public Libraries mostly done (not that you'd know it from my wiki page--for once I've been hand-writing my notes)--save for the screenshots, which of course will require no less than three hours of struggle and some mild cursing at my laptop. The Library 2.0 technologies and the "Keeping Up as a 21-st Century Librarian" talks both came together really easily--it's more the basic tech competencies for librarians that I'm struggling with. I think it's because I have an hour, so I want to do more than say, "this is what you ought to know--now learn it." But then again I only have an hour... and I can't possibly teach the intricacies of ten basic tech competencies in that amount of time. I'll have to find some kind of happy compromise and point them to some great resources to follow-up on their own.

In any case, I am very, very excited about the SAPL event. And my mom's looking forward to attending; I've been telling her than since she can't get Wordperfect 5.0 installed on her computer, and she hates MS Word, she really just ought to use a wiki. It's got the simple, code-revealing mark-up she wants (without really realizing that's what she wants), plus she can access it from any computer without having to save it to a USB drive or floppy or whatnot. And she can have all the old versions backed up... yeah, she's wiki-bound, I tell ya.

Well, I'd better sign off. I need to finish printing those handouts for tonight and down a few cough-drops.