Tag Archives: geek

Innovative Technology in the Library

In the library and technology world David Lee King is a true mover and shaker (in fact Library Journal named him on of the Movers & Shakers in 2008). He is the Digital Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (one of my favorite libraries to keep up with) in Kansas. He knows what’s up when it comes to emerging trends in libraries, particularly when it comes to technology and the social web. I don’t frequent his blog as much as I intend to, but each time I do I pull something really cool from it.

Oh, and he’s nice to look at, too. *grin*

When I decided to redesign our website last year a lot of the ideas I had for it (some of which are yet to come) came from hearing him (and others) speak at the Internet Librarian conference in 2012. I’ve also tried other social web marketing ideas he’s written about on his blog or spoken about elsewhere. He’s definitely an idol of mine. I would love to be as successful at marketing my library and doing innovative things, but I’d also like to be better at speaking and invigorating others in the field.

Anyway, I read a post he wrote about a month ago about submitting a speaking proposal at the Internet Librarian 2014 conference and it just got me thinking about being successful in my job, encouraging and exciting others, and being more active. I was speaking there for a very few years, and even though I’m a totally shy and awkward introvert I have to admit I really enjoyed it. And… I think I was good at it. I think. I hope.

I feel like I used to be more innovative and on top of things in my field. I’ve always taken pride in being a jack of many technology-related trades. Web design, graphic design, social media, marketing, video editing, teaching… I like all of it, but it feels like I’m not as valuable anymore. I think I’m just overwhelmed with the responsibilities I picked up at the beginning of the year. And don’t get me wrong: I love my new position. I feel like I’m learning things every day, but I don’t feel like I have as much time to try new things and read up on what’s going on in the field. I have ideas and even things that *should* be getting done but I have a hard time keeping up. I would love to take David’s advice and just submit a proposal. But what would I do it on? I feel like I’m not on top of or even close to the trends anymore. I’m just hanging on to the technology-in-libraries life raft while the speed boat is jetting away ahead of me.

Anyway, I’m going to make a goal of investigating and implementing two new innovative technology things in my library over the course of the next five months. I will have been in this new position for 3/4 of a year, and I think that’s more than enough time to have gotten comfortable and regained my position as the driver of the aforementioned speed boat. I am, after all, the Innovative Technology Manager. It is time to better live up to that title.


PLA Wrap-Up & John Green part 2

What a conference! I haven’t been to PLA since 2010 so this was a real treat. The programs, the exhibit hall, the people, the time with my coworkers… It makes the whole experience electric and renewed my excitement for my job.


This year has been difficult (though also exciting) for me so far because my position changed. It’s been really stressful and to be honest I constantly feel like I have to prove my worth and prove that I’m capable. I get a lot of reassurance, but I still doubt myself. This conference was timed perfectly. Next week is the Arts Gala, which will be exciting itself, but after that I’ll hopefully have a bit of a renewed outlook on my position and be able to enjoy my profession a little more.

Anyway, I participated in some exciting programs about makerspaces and makerboxes, summer reading programs, creating an exciting brand, and technology in libraries, among other things. I’m super-excited to implement some of these ideas in our library. Two of my coworkers and I brainstormed ideas via text while sitting in the summer reading session, and I think we will be able to really grow the participation from students. I’m lucky to have a pretty cool director who likes to try new things; she saw the makerboxes program and immediately said she will give us a budget for implementing something like this in our library. I can’t wait to get to work on this stuff.

The exhibits were decent this time. Being in Indianapolis meant I didn’t have to worry about checking overloaded baggage, so I loaded up on the free books. I got a few signed books from authors I am not too familiar with, plus a signed copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris!!



When I spoke with Laurie Halse Anderson I kept trying to think of how to tell her that I wrote a few 5 star reviews of her books… I never managed to squeeze it in. She was so cool and relaxed so I don’t know what my problem was. Anyway, I tweeted her and told her later…. and she tweeted back at me!


The John Green luncheon was so amazing. Our table was right next to his, and we were definitely the creepiest most dedicated. We kept taking selfies in which he was included.


When he got to the podium to talk he first took a picture of the group and Instagrammed it. I’m in the picture! With my phone up taking pictures, of course.


He talked about libraries, writing for Booklist, and his dedicated Nerdfighter following. He talked about writing his books, when he will start writing again (June 10th!) and why amazon will never really know what books he would enjoy.

David Sedaris was hilarious. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m not very familiar with his books or even with him. But after our brief conversation about coffee and Japan I feel he really likes me and we will probably be friends forever. Also, hearing him read his writing aloud makes me want to go pick up some of his books on cd. Which I will the next time I’m at work.


What a rewarding conference. I have been so exhausted I haven’t been able to post. But, here’s this. And more to come soon!


PLA today! It was just as golden and glittery and electric as I knew it would be. Of course the best start possible was courtesy of OverDrive, my favorite library vendor. The people at OverDrive know how to party and the company has the most upbeat, friendly, and helpful staff. Steve Potash must be amazing to work for. The combination of PLA, the OverDrive party, and being around some of my favorite coworkers and peers last night and today makes me excited about tomorrow and eager also for Digipalooza. Why’s it gotta be so far away?

The best program I went to today was on implementing maker spaces in the library. My friend/coworker Courtney and I have been interested in this for awhile now and this program, presented by a few Illinois librarians, gave me tons of ideas. These libraries essentially used boxes and filled them with maker stuff to fit a theme. For example, a music themed maker box would have a variety of tools for people to create music; a STEM themed maker box would have all kinda of things to promote science, technology, engineering, and math learning (build-your-own cardboard marble run!). I love this idea because it would allow us to start small and then go bigger. We could swap things in and out of the different boxes to keep them fresh, and offer both scheduled and impromptu programs. I can picture is setting up a science-themed maker box on the sidewalk outside the building during this summer to also promote summer reading. The possibilities! So exciting. I’m stoked about this.


The exhibit hall was so overwhelming I didn’t make it through the whole thing. But I met Laurie Halse Anderson and she signed a copy of speak for me! Tons of freebies, as usual.

The hardest part of the day was being away from the boys. I spent the night downtown so I could go all out at the OverDrive party (and, um, after) so I didn’t see them all night or day. Not a huge deal but hangover emotions are always more intense.

Tomorrow I’m attending the John Green lunch! Will report back soon. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I’m tired. PLA is phenomenal but I’m dealing with an abundance of librarians. I’m going to bed now.


Check out how I make the most of conferences here.

PLA 2014 Starts Tomorrow… Here in Indianapolis! How I Plan to Make the Most of It

I’m excited about being able to attend the PLA 2014 Conference, since it is right here in Indianapolis this year. I went four years ago just a few months after having Trent (wait… that was four years ago?!) and had a blast. The conference pumped me up and had me envisioning all kinds of fun things for the library. I’ve since attended a few others but PLA is definitely one of my favorites.

Conferences are great for several reasons:

  • They provide opportunities to hear about new trends. I can go to a session on using social media within and for the library (which I consider myself fairly experienced with) and learn something new every single time. There are topics for nearly every library niche, so even if I don’t want to go to yet another web services program I have the opportunity to sit in on something new. And no one takes attendance, so it’s easy to slip out of one session and into another. 
  • It’s a great time to network with other people in the library world. Every conference I go to I meet someone new and come home with a new contact. I’ve met an Adobe employee who’s offered me discounts and the opportunity to tour the facility; I’ve met an expert on gaming in the library; I’ve met librarians who are looking to implement services I’m familiar with, and have thus helped someone else; I’ve reconnected with former coworkers.
  • Food! There are snacks and coffee all over the place. Snacks. Coffee. Win.
  • Exhibits! The exhibits are always exciting, and it’s a great way to waste time if there happens to be extra time or if there aren’t any relevant-to-me sessions going on. Exhibitors go out of their way to be nice (because they want you to buy their stuff!) so though they can be annoying they are hardly ever mean. Plus: freebies, candy, and prizes galore! Tons of exhibitors have opportunities to win prizes, and you can always grab an extra pen or piece of candy.
  • They are stimulating. No matter what kind of librarian you are, how much you think you know about a given topic, if you attend the conference alone or with coworkers… one of the biggest rewards is the excitement that comes from attending. Maybe it is being out of the library, maybe it is being around tons of others, maybe it’s all the great food you get to eat, or maybe (possibly?) it’s the sessions and programs. Most likely it is a combination of all of the above.
  • The buns and glasses. Yeah, I said it. There will be buns. And there will be glasses. And it will be awesome.


A few tips for conference-goers:

  • Pack a bag, but pack it lightly. Paper and pen or an iPad or other tablet, plus purse-ish essentials. That’s it. You’re going to want space in your bag if you plan to buy anything or pick up exhibit hall freebies. I always end up throwing a bottle of water in my bag and then regret it because it’s heavy and there’s water all over the place. Light is good.
  • Dress in layers. Conference halls are notorious for being either wet-washrag-hot or freezing-cold. Wear a t-shirt but bring a sweater. On that same note, wear tennis shoes. Seriously. I’m the flip-flop queen, and even I insist on wearing tennis shoes. You’ll be walking a lot.
  • Find the restrooms, and go during sessions, not between. The lines are crazy if you go during a break, especially if you hit up the bathrooms that are closest to the exhibit hall. Your best bet is to walk a little ways and find a bathroom in a lesser-known area in the conference hall.
  • Bring your phone charger. Lots of conference halls actually don’t have wireless, so you’ll end up using a lot of battery. Also, if you are a part of a pack you’ll likely be texting or calling frequently to check in or set up a meeting time or place. And let’s be real: you’re gonna check Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. during the boring programs. And speaking of boring sessions…
  • Sit near the back and aisle whenever possible. A wise woman once told me that a library conference is your time to make yourself a better librarian. If you’re in a session that sucks, leave. It’s as easy as that. People do it all the time. I’ve presented at conferences a handful of times and it’s happened to me, too. The fact is you can’t please everyone and you might end up in a session that just isn’t what you need, though it may be great for other attendees.
  • Plan out your programs ahead of time, and choose a back up program in case you foul out with your first choice. Make note of the room number for both, too. You never know: you might show up to choice one and know right away that you don’t plan to stick around. If possible, plan out your session attendance strategy with other people from your library. It’s nice to know where your coworkers/peers are going so you can cover all the bases or attend the awesome-sounding programs together.
  • Keep your stuff to yourself. Don’t be that dick that spreads their crap all over the place. Yes, we know the chairs are small. Yes, we know your bag is packed full of exhibit hall freebies, and yes, we see that you have a cup of coffee and a granola bar you’re trying to manage in addition to the rest of your junk. But it really sucks to be last in and have to squeeze past someone’s stuff or even worse, to have to ask someone to move their bag so you can sit down. You’re among librarians. Librarians are awkward and often introverted; make it easy on us.
  • Energize! Make sure you get plenty of sleep before and after each conference day. Drink plenty of water before, after, and during, and grab a snack anytime they’re available, even if it’s just to eat later.
  • Take notes. You may think you’ll remember all the awesomeness you’re experiencing, but you won’t Monday will come, you’ll head back to work and though you’ll still have that conference high it will be back to the grind. You might remember tidbits, but you won’t remember step-by-step how to set up a social media policy or what the top 10 tech trends are, or how that one library (which library was it, by the way??) did away with Dewey.


I’m looking forward to a lot of the programs and events. An Overdrive party (always a blast!), lunch with John Green, closing session with David Sedaris, and tons of programs about libraries and technology. Can’t wait!