June 30, 2010

Happy Social Media Day!

I just learned that today is Social Media Day. I'll take it.

I had intended to do an ALA round-up but this will have to do. Most of what I have to say about ALA can probably be linked back to Social Media anyway. In particular, yesterday I attended an all-day symposium on social media, collaboration and transparency with several presentations of Open Government projects. It was heartening to hear about the mandates that have gone out to government agencies to help operationalize President Obama's memorandum on open government and transparency. Moreover, it was exciting to hear from the IRS, GSA, NASA, State Department, Veterans Affairs, Commerce Department and Library of Congress about how they are going above and beyond that order to use new media in many exciting projects. Perhaps most exciting was learning about GobiernoUSA.gov.

A speaker from GSA said they got 30 citizen-made (unpaid for) public service announcements for their YouTube channel just by running a contest. A fabulous speaker from the State Department said that getting citizens engaged is critical, as opposed to the traditional approach of, "You'll love this. We've done it. It's done. Don't you love it?" Another said that using social media in government is no longer an option, but an expectation. And my favorite quote of the day came when Michelle Springer from the Library of Congress was explaining their magnificent Flickr project. In answer to an audience question about whether LC has contractual agreements with their social media vendors, Springer said that they have "modified terms of service" with YouTube and Flickr, but that Twitter's terms of service were "so government-friendly" that they have the standard agreement.

June 24, 2010

In Praise of Gretchen

It's good to have friends in library places. Even better when they are professional colleagues with complementary skills to your own.

Gretchen and I met in our MLS program at the Catholic University of America about three years ago. We were partners on a big team project that went swimmingly. I think we had a class together almost every semester and, since we knew we worked well together, we tended to choose each other for projects. As we advanced in our coursework, our collaboration became more extensive and professional, culminating in the creation of our digital library project near the end of our studies.

At one point in our studies we attended a special librarians symposium in DC where one of my library heroes, Susan Fournier, said, "When in doubt, ask another librarian." Gretchen is usually the first person I ask. She has excellent technical skills, and many of the tools I am now proficient in were introduced to me by her. She also knows a thing or three about copyright, knowledge management, and many topics of interest to innovative librarians.

I am an uncompetitive person by nature (except when playing cribbage with my husband), and I'll never beat Gretchen at anything, but it is good to have her around as constant motivation for honing my skills and staying on top of things.

If you are in library school, identify the people who are going to be your friends and colleagues once you graduate. It is very important to have people to ask all your (dumb and other) questions to when you start your job. I'd also like to give a shout-out to Liz and Catherine and all the fine ladies and gentlemen of SLIS who continue to share ideas, articles, links, wine, and rich discussion with both me and Gretchen. It really makes a difference to enter the world of librarianship with interesting and smart people all around you enriching the path and throwing resources your way.

This week Gretchen and I are attending the ALA annual conference and figuring out foursquare together. Stay tuned!

June 22, 2010

Express Train to the White Spaces

This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a great site of ADA and other disability-related resources at www.DisabilityInfo.gov and their blog has been doing a countdown since the spring, with regular updates on Twitter.

If you are looking for ways to add value to your organization, consider educating yourself on the ADA and specific aspects of compliance that you could provide some guidance on. You might want to read up on issues surrounding employing people with disabilities or perhaps your interest is in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the requirement that federal agencies make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. There are a ton of great resources on web accessibility these days. My favorite is Dive Into Accessibility.

One of the best things I have ever done for the white spaces where I work was to create an accessibility statement for our website. I did not write it from scratch; I cobbled it together after thoughtful consideration of existing statements from federal and other websites, in order to create a draft that was appropriate for our circumstances. See the sidebar for a bunch of examples of accessibility statements, as well as other web accessibility resources.

Yesterday I got to sit in on a staff training about ADA Complementary Paratransit, which is one of the main ways the ADA affects our work. I listened for the terminology one might use in a search, the main documents, legal precedents and federal regulations to follow on this topic, as well as frequently asked questions so that I can help codify what we learned into usable knowledge on our website (or link to existing resources on the web). When we finished I tagged a bunch of stuff to go back through and pare down for some new FAQ resources. Watching your colleagues engage in Q&A on a topic that is central to their work is a great way to learn and anticipate information needs.
(I love this graphic; isn't she sexy?)

June 16, 2010

Is it possible that I've never done a "Day in the Life" post??

Well, then, it's high time that I start. After all, if this blog is of use to anyone besides me it's probably new solo librarians. So, I was out of the office for a few days and then came back...what did I do today?
  • Read a great article about "Reader's Despair Syndrome," sent it to at least five people and posted in it my Gmail status bar before I was finished;
  • Checked my Google Alerts for mentions of our Association, national programs, publications, and staff members;
  • Monitored my Twitter feed for transit and other news of import;
  • Updated various pages of a website I manage to reflect new reports and events that I found in Google Alerts or on Twitter;
  • Created a shipment for an upcoming event where one of our field staff will present--yes, I have to select, pack, weigh, ship and track materials that go all around the country (and to Puerto Rico sometimes!);
  • Discussed (with web manager) strategies for unifying and displaying all our staff blogs;
  • Led a tutorial on Google Reader, Google Alerts, and Twitter.

The last part was my favorite. I love teaching, especially one-on-one, and I love helping people manage their information flow. When I was doing the tutorial I thought of a few more articles to send to my colleague. Here are the links shown in the image above if you haven't gotten enough!

June 9, 2010

Hello, I am the Embedded Librarian who Used to Blog at this Address

When you forget your blog password, it's been too long.

There is no excuse, but there is a reason, that I do not blog as frequently as I used to. Sometimes it's that I don't think I like the job enough to blog about it without negativity. Sometimes it's that I love it so much I don't want to stop to share it, but here goes...

(Any place is a good place to start, right?) I ran two professional Twitter feeds (see Thing 1 and Thing 2), and managed to pop in via my personal account occasionally, during our annual conference. It was a great experience and I am convinced that the librarian is the best person to have this job during a week-long conference. I plan to write this up for...for something, so I can share it with other solos. Next week I will give a presentation to one of the teams to explain what all I did and why I think it was effective.

I also got to dress up as a giant penguin to help launch a website that I work on, and to promote my monthly newsletter, whose mascot is Tappy the Penguin. If that's not working in the white spaces, I don't know what is.