Thursday, August 19, 2010

5th Annual LiBerry Music Festival in Ester!

The John Trigg Ester Library is holding its fifth annual music festival and pie contest on Saturday, August 21, in the village of Ester, near Fairbanks. Music starts at 2 pm and performances continue on into the wee hours of the morning. The Ester library has been raising funds for construction of a new library for the past six years; groundbreaking begins this year.

For more information, contact Monique Musick or Bob Huebert, organizers and library board members.

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Latest issue of Newspoke

The latest issue of Newspoke is now available. You can get the PDF here. The July-September 2010 issue (v. 23 n. 3) includes these stories:
• A Legacy to Kenai's First Lady of Reading, Emily DeForest
• Letter from the President
• "A Native Lad": Turning Words into Pictures
• Library Advocacy Day
• Catalogers' Corner
• AkLA Chapter News
• Scholarship Awards for American Indians and Alaska Natives
• When Does A Library Cease to Be A Library?
• Newspoke Guidelines
• AkLA Officers/Calendar

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why information professionals should join social networks

It is easy to demonize the kinds of relationships found in online social networks. Like shooting fish in a barrel-easy. There’s the acquaintance-stalker, the voyeur-friend, the I’ll-follow-you-if-you-follow-me status-seeker, and many others ranging from the hilarious to the pathetic to the criminal. Lisanova mocks one of them with pinpoint accuracy in this 2-minute video.

But we are indulging in mental laziness and conduct unbecoming to an information professional when we reject online social networks on this basis. They can be incredibly useful and subtle information streams. Over the last two years they have shifted from being just a social venue to being both sources of and filters for the oceans of information available to us.

The foundation of their usefulness lies in the fact that they are composed of millions of the best information sources/filters known to science: people. For example, in Twitter I follow a librarian in Calgary because he posts good tweets about ILL; in fact he went to the ILLiad conference recently and posted from each session. I found him serendipitously through the network of another person I found serendipitously, etc. “Serendipity” here really means that we have an intuitive grasp of people and networks of people that helps us simplify the selection process.

The challenge for us and our customers is shaping our personal interaction with the millions of people and entities that participate in social networking so we get what we need and don’t get overwhelmed in the process. Fortunately, the evolution of technology and its accompanying business models are working in our favor.

My wife and I elected not to bring a TV into our house when we got married, not because we objected to the concept of images projected on a screen, but for two interlocking reasons: because the content produced by that business model/technology was soul-destroyingly awful; and because we knew that personal and social dynamics would lead us to watch that content if we put that technology in our living room.

But 25 years later, when a new technology came along with a new business model, I started “watching TV.” The new technology was the DVD; the new business model was packaging and selling complete TV series sans advertising. That new approach was itself fostered by other business-technology phenomena, like the ubiquity of DVD drives and the way cable technology and its business model (occasionally) produces great content.

The technology evolved and allowed me to refine my information stream, in this case my entertainment. This is what is happening micro-incrementally and at a much more rapid pace in social networks today. The evolution of social networks is so blindingly rapid, in fact, that it is not useful in an article like this to make prescriptions like “Your library should be on Facebook” or “You should teach your users to manage their RSS feeds in the cloud with Google Reader.”

The best way to know what to teach our customers is to become adept at navigating those information streams ourselves, and the best way to do that is to actively craft our own personal product. Before we decide whether our library should be on Facebook, we need to know how Facebook fits into our own information strategy.

Without going into the details in this post, I can say that crafting my own information strategy has been a messy process over the years, and it is time-consuming. Sometimes I spend 8 hours a week shaping, consuming, and re-shaping my information flow. Sometimes I just cruise and consume.

But this is, after all, my profession. We can no more ignore social networks today because they have a reputation of being “flaky” than we could ignore MARC records 30 years ago because they had a reputation of being “complicated.” As professionals, we have a responsibility to figure it out and pass it along to our customers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another fundraiser

Trey Simmons plans to host a Red Dress Party for the John Trigg Ester Library sometime in February. This is an event where all attendees must wear a red dress or dress-like garment (toga, kilt, smoking jacket, bathrobe). "Red" can be anything from pink to burgundy. There's music and food, and you pay money to get in. Apparently these fundraisers are quite successful in Logan, Utah (where the original Red Dress Party was held) and Portland, Oregon, where each year the organizers choose a different charity to donate money to, and the parties have grown to the size where they raise tens of thousands of dollars.

It sounds like a lot of fun!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fundraisers and fundraising ideas

Library fundraisers can bring in a wide variety of people from the community and can be a lot of fun, too. The community of Ester uses music, food, sports, and various contests to engage people. The John Trigg Ester Library has three fundraisers a year: the Book Bash & Lallapalooza (an auction with entertainment and a lasagne feed), the Li-Berry Music Festival and Pie Throwdown (a music festival and pie-baking contest), and Readers on the Run (a 5-kilometer footrace with costume contest and stops to create magnetic poetry for the poetry contest).

The Li-Berry Music Festival this year will be September 13, from 3-9:30 pm (or later) at the Golden Eagle Saloon and Hartung Hall, in the village of Ester. Pies are due at the Eagle between 12 and 3 and must include wild Alaska berries, but can be savory or sweet. (See our contest rules for more information or e-mail the JTEL librarians.)

For our 2010 spring fundraiser, the Lallapalooza, we are going to have for the first time a Library Decathlon: ten sporting events playing on stereotypes and actual duties of librarians. So far the list includes tests of skill such as a Ruler Thwack, a Shushing event, a Book Stack Carry and Alphabetize Relay Race, a Book Cart Costume & Choreography Contest (on the order of the drill team event in Chicago), and a Book Thief Tackle event. Teams from around the state will be invited, and librarians in particular are encouraged to participate, although the general public can try their library skills also.

So tell us—what sorts of fun things do you do for fundraisers?

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

End of an era?

About a year ago, the continuing education committee decided to clean this blog up and make it active again, especially so that it could be useful during conference. Daniel Cornwall, in particular, has done an amazing job of providing regular, thoughtful and informative posts. The blog is almost perfect except for two things: Daniel is doing almost all of the work, and according to our statistics, very few people are actually reading it.

Since everyone is busy and we hate to spend time on things that aren't being used, we've decided to stop maintaining this blog at this time. It will still be up. Anyone who has signed up for an account to post is welcome to do so, and I'm happy to sign up any AkLA folk who would like to post. If it becomes active, great! If not, then I'm still pleased with the role it has played and what we have learned from doing it. Thank you to everyone who has been involved with creating and maintaining the blog!

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Need another project now that we're not doing this one? Please contact Freya Anderson at libkitty (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kodiak - Wish you were here!

My flight got in on time on Thursday. I met a few friends on the flight who rented a car once we landed. They invited me to tag along and we drove about 30 miles out of town to a place called Fossil Beach. We stopped many times along the way to take photographs of breathtaking scenary, bison and even a few pigs. I hope to get these uploaded to Flickr within a few days of returning to Juneau. It was a blindingly sunny day, which was a real treat for us Juneauites. I've been told by locals that sun in Kodiak is about as common as sun in Juneau, so I feel especially blessed to be here.

After we got done sightseeing, we went to the opening reception which featured the Kodiak Island Drummers. They were high energy and demonstrated great precision. The leader asserted that their group was one of the most multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multi-age drumming groups currrently in existance, and he apppears to be right. A good time was had by all and AkLA President Mary Jo Joiner and several other librarians showed off their considerable dance skills and stamina.

It was a great opening day. Wish you were here. While it won't be the same as being here, check out the conference wiki for notes on some of the sessions written by Freya Anderson and other AkLA members. And if you are here in Kodiak with me, please use the "comments" button on the wiki session pages to give your impressions of the sessions you went to.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Nearly There!

I have once again found a working free wifi connection. This time it's at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.

When I last wrote, I was stuck in Juneau with about 10 other librarians trying to get to the 2009 Alaska Library Association annual conference in Kodiak. After two cancelled flights, the third time was the charm. We got into Anchorage. It was too late for me to conduct my databases class at the Talking Book Center, but I was happy. So were my fellow librarians.

I am on the 10am flight to Kodiak and expect to arrive in 11:20am. The flight is operated by ERA Aviation. Over many years I've been trained to arrive two hours before every flight. Not just because that's the normal expectation for domestic flights, but because my CPAP machine gets special screening EVERY TIME I FLY.

I had forgotten that as an air taxi service, ERA Aviation is not subject to the same security checkpoints as Alaska Airlines. I was both estatic and slighly disappointed to find this out. Slightly disappointed because I now have two hours at the gate. But estatic because I'm freed from the hassle of the cattle line and the humilation of being assumed a security risk until my medical equipment is proved otherwise.

I'm staying at the Comfort Inn in Kodiak. If you're an attendee reading this blog, feel free to stop me and say hi.

My next entry will be from Kodiak when I actually have something Conference related to say. I just wanted to let folks know that the Southeast contingent is on its way!