30 March 2010

“did you mean…?”, ILL, and next steps

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:49 am by Andromeda

I finally figured out why my overall ILL experience has left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

So, a large fraction of the ILL requests I issue get shot down for reasons I find incomprehensible. (A reason is always given — it’s just clearly couched in a culture or policy I have no exposure to, so it feels totally arbitrary to me.)

But what is not given is a next step. OK, so you won’t give me this book because it’s too new and for some reason that’s a problem — so ask me, “Would you like to reissue this request in 3 months?” And give me a one-click way to do that. I interact with ILL solely by computer, and computers are awesome at keeping track of that in a way I am not.[*]

Even a link to more explanation, context that makes the explanation comprehensible, would be nice. But really…it’s like spellcheck. It’s like what we kept talking about in my library software class last term — user requests should not fail. If they searched for something with no hits, you should look for spelling mistakes and ask “did you mean…?”, or give them some kind of suggestion for the closest match you can find — some way of continuing the search, of feeling like you tried to help, something other than a blank wall of electrons. Some next step.

ILL rejections don’t give me next steps. (Or they do, and apparently not prominently enough for me to remember.) And that’s just frustrating.

[*] Actually, these days, a lot of the magic of the library experience for me is getting unexpected presents from past-me. Past-me sees some book she wants to read, say, Checklist Manifesto (after seeing Atul Gawande speak at ALA Midwinter), or Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (after seeing Bohyun Kim and pretty much the entire internet rave about it), and drops a request. There are a million holds on the first returned copy, so I forget, but the computer doesn’t, and a month or two later I get an email saying that this book I have totally forgotten I wanted to read, this present from past-me and the library, has arrived! It makes me feel all warm and happy.

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19 January 2010

Battledecks, part deux

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:18 pm by Andromeda

The Unquiet Librarian (who deals with digital now-and-beyond in some pretty cool ways) has the complete Battledecks throwdown. Thanks again for taping that! It’s less painful seeing myself on video than I had feared ;).

18 January 2010

ALA Midwinter 2010, part 2: fame and glory, endings, beginnings

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 4:13 pm by Andromeda

First off, ALA Midwinter’s pretty much over — they’re rolling up the Networking Uncommons projection screen, Twitter’s jammed with people at the airport, nothing going on but some committee meetings. And I kinda want to cry.

I’d been looking forward, in an abstract way, to professional networking, but last week was packed with so many highs and lows, emotions pulling in all different directions, I didn’t really have it in me to build up a good wave of excitement.

And then Friday, still figuring out how to navigate the schedule, but things picked up with the LITA happy hour, great company, food, booze, and Saturday I was getting the hang of things some more, and then Sunday, oh my god, Sunday.

8am to see Atul Gawande (read everything he’s ever written; you won’t regret it), cut through the exhibit floor to grab coffee and get waylaid by a robot on my way to a resume critique, then off to the Top Tech Trends panel where we twittered til we broke it, OCLC developer network luncheon with all sorts of inspiring ideas for how to tap into their huge pile of tasty tasty data (the API looks easy! I can do that!), the awesomely themed Set Sail for Fail with its surprise Battledecks (see below), then met up with Jason Price from the Claremont consortium libraries who kindly made some time for me, Claremont alum (got back $3.50ish in coffee from the $100K I gave them, plus some great advice on the academic job market), then off to a panel I couldn’t even parse because my brain was full, then the blog salon, more good people, crackers, cheese, then crashing the Elsevier party…

Thirteen and a half straight hours of infodump and social contact high. Love it. Love it. @pcsweeney, @buffyjhamilton, @JanieH, @LibrarianJP (Jersey ftw!), @OCLCdevnet, @bohyunkim, @artficlinanity, @gluejar (you know you’ve picked the fun events where the cool peeps will be if you keep running into @gluejar), @andrewkpace, @libraryfuture, @wawoodworthDon Lemke, Jason Price, all you other people I don’t have on Twitter or who were lost in the weekend’s blur…Thanks so much. I knew librarians would be easy to talk to. I didn’t know I’d feel that at home with you all. (Nor did I know how much librarians like to drink. Which may have helped with the talking.)

@pcsweeney, I promise you I’ll think about how to swing the logistics for Annual, because I am heading into some serious withdrawal right now.


Oh. Right. Battledecks. (People do keep asking.)

Battledecks! aka powerpoint karaoke. You get a topic, you get a deck of 15 unfamiliar slides, you get 5 minutes to give a talk on that topic with the slides — you see them for the first time during the talk. Be lucid, be engaging, sound like you planned it, don’t go over.

I should back up for a moment and say my major goal for ALA Midwinter was building myself a professional network, getting my name out there.

And Battledecks plays straight into two things for me: one, I need to say yes to more crazy experiences, and two, five years of middle school teaching experience. Babbling like I meant it without a lesson plan? Hell yeah I know how to do that.

So I did.

Observe my glorious victory (shared with librarianbyday). Heck, while you’re at it, observe my actual presentation. (Apparently it was livestreaming, which I am darn glad I did not know, or the adrenalin/blind panic might have flipped over from “good” to “bad”…) I got tweeted by people with bunches of followers.

In re that goal of mine: This was a triumph. I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.


You know, it’s not that far to DC.

16 January 2010

ALA Midwinter 2010

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:32 am by Andromeda

Not a lot of blogging this weekend — brain being eaten by assimilating the thick with secret code meeting schedule. And, quite possibly, liver being eaten by networking opportunities — it turns out librarians like to party. (Punting an informative-sounding panel for the LITA happy hour last night? Excellent idea. Drinking on big name Andrew Pace‘s tab (thanks again!), decamping afterward with brand new pals to the private dining room with lots of attention from the executive chef, due to aforesaid pal’s excellent party-planning skills? A high point of the conference.)

All my conference thoughts are ending up on Twitter. In iambic meter because, hey, why not. (Sometimes I cheat trochaically. So sue me.)