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Kinder Egg

February 8, 2011

Today I hung out with a Lithuanian kid in Canada by way of Germany. We read a ghost story and I taught him what a “bayou” is…a “sumpf” apparently. Then we did exercises and went for a walk around the school where we were both stoked by the sight of a motorrad. Looking forward to more of this. Time for a chili cook off or something like one.

Fleischmarkt, Dusseldorf



January 31, 2011

Math Olympiad. School bus election. Spectrum slick. Kulshan 5 set. Uno on VHS upstairs. Super Nachos. A Chinese building where they catch and keep fireflys. Scimitar. Bo knows. Mr. Zoller, that dickhead. Wing Commander. Loyd Christmas. Lakeway and Lincoln all day everyday. Fred Bears. Big black. Bacon Bits.  Roosevelt. Aquatic Center gap. Talkin’ disc golf at Frank’s Pawn Shop. Ladner. Scam brothers. Haggen’s ledge. Trinity. QC stereo. Whirlpool, BB gun, zipline, miniramp. Driveway lipslide shuvs/smithgrind. Haunted carwash. Egglauncher. Whatcom Falls. Laffines late night. Yew street reverse T bone in the Thing. Greek Orthodox and your truck wouldn’t start. Fast times at Brookview place, Willow Road, and Louie’s place. Albertson’s skate jam. Shit baseball. 4th of July on Galbraith. Lebowski. Tood’s Boot. Commercial Meat Slicer. Sour Milk. I could go on and on but you remember too.

A year to reconcile, some days its still unbelievable. December 2010 you dropped me off after a cold night skating Cost Cutter and it was like every other time since we were kids except that would end up being that. I’m going out shredding tonight with you in mind. I hope you can do the same wherever you are.

I really miss you man.

Photo: Jared Smith



January 30, 2011

It would get boring if things just stayed the same. In this case, things would be no more. So lets drain the pool and hoist the tent, see what happens. Of course now that I am no longer scholastically obligated I have transgressed my own curmudgeonry. Elective and willing participant. Stay tuned for a moment or a meltdown…either way should be interesting.

Hallowed Halls- Yale Law Library

December 4, 2010

Iniustitie Typus, Guillaume Le Rouillé, JUSTICIE ATQUE INIUSTICIE (Paris, 1520) from

Let us examine, for the sake of contrast, Flickr usage by an academic library, which can generally be characterized by an emphasis on collections over programming. Few towers of academia loom loftier than Yale Law School, who’s Lillian Goldman Law Library maintains an account here. The account provides detailed citations and call numbers for photographed sources from a number of the library’s collections, organized into sets for browsing purposes. Photographed manuscripts are included “to provide access to (the) vast content contained” indicating the use of the photostream as a research tool. Other sets detail technical processes step by step, in this case record tagging.

Just as best practice literature exists in the public sphere, academic librarians are educating one another on creative and productive uses of Flickr in their institutions. Steve Lawson, Humanities Librarian at Colorado College, has posted a slide show of his recommendations on Slideshare, thus using social media to further social media. Fancy that.

Lillian Goldman provides a fairly direct route to its Flickr account via the Rare Books Department page and provides users with a wealth of updates via its News and Blogs page. Though we might assume that the average ivy league law student could handily figure these tools out on their own, Rare Book Librarian Mike Widener maintains his own blog describing the latest Flickr uploads, as well as other happenings and points of interest in his department. The Flickr account seems to serve Yale Law students well as an information resource and point of virtual access to their collection as many photos are heavily viewed, though the interactivity component is limited and few if any of the photos are favorited or commented upon. It is not exactly clear if this is a goal of the library but an invitation to contribute to content in the manner of the Library of Congress might evoke some participation. Again, it is more difficult to describe the nature of the collection’s role in terms of its users. Were I bright enough to study law at Yale, I imagine myself being more fascinated by this content (some of the images and descriptions are pretty amazing even from a lay perspective) but perhaps their enshrined and ancient status would prevent me from utilizing the social component of this particular batch of social media.

What’s Shakin’- San Jose Public Library

December 4, 2010

Curious Conroy Cougar Comix by David Mejia, 2nd Place Adult Category from

Social media in libraries has been much ballyhooed for a few years now. So have been graphic novels. Library users are more diverse in their interests, tastes, and the media formats they prefer in accessing said interests and tastes than ever before. Virtual access and online communities are bringing new audiences into the library broadly characterized by a shift from passive content consumers to active content creators. OK, so this is a bit of a line from a cereal box… but it is true that more and more creative types are using 2.0 tools as self publishing platforms, and a certain percentage of these makers are finding both inspiration and exposure at their library. San Jose Public Library (and its sharp new website) show you how its done.

My introduction to SJPL was via Librarian in Black, the popular blog of SJPL Digital Futures Manger and all around web-wizard Sarah Houghton-Jan. Sarah works to educate libraries and librarians on taking advantage of  the never ending waves of digital opportunity including digital imaging and by extension, Flickr. Her outreach and consulting efforts yielded her timely presentation “Best Free Web Stuff for Broke Libraries“, an amazing breakdown of all the great free and open access tools that are out there for libraries evermore on the cheap. Naturally, Sarah advocates the use of Flickr and SJPL’s Flickr is one of best accounts out there. With nearly 4000 photos organized into 111 sets and updated almost daily, SJPL surely sees social media as more than a passing fad of 2005. It is easily accessed from the homepage (along with SJPL’s Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feed) and many of the site’s pages feature a slide show in the sidebar to link users not familiar with those newfangled icons (Fr?…French?). Each branch has its own set, as do programs and events including non-library sanctioned events such as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Which is pretty awesome.

In serving the aforementioned creative user, SJPL held a graphic novel contest this past spring, creating Flickr sets for the event and the top submissions. SJPL’s investment in its user is reflected in the amazing entries including Curious Conroy Cougar Comix (pictured above) and winning entry A Fine Day Out . Look at this!

If there was ever an argument for libraries making meaningful connections with their users social media, this is it, no improvements that this humble author might suggest needed. As if that wasn’t enough, all of SJPL’s photos are available under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licensing, making them available to share and remix. And blog about.

Murder By the Book- Alexandrian Public Library

December 3, 2010

Run If You Can by Owen Dudley(1960) & The Devil's Punchbowl by Duane Decker (1960) from

Public library programming has its tried and true standards: book discussion, story time, author readings, and the like. We love this stuff, our patrons love it. That said, adventurous librarians are always looking for creative ways to attract interest, incorporate artistic talent, and keep things fresh. One of the best places for libraries to look for new programming ideas is, of course, other libraries! Sharing these ideas is as important as sharing any other best practice and though libraries’ audiences, funding, and directions may diverge, there is a lot to gain from these exchanges.

As more and more libraries get involved with Flickr, its value in sharing programing practice is enriched. A Flickr set is the perfect encapsulation for an event, allowing the library to display promotional material, event production, and the audience. The Alexandrian, Indiana Public Library sets the bar high with its Murder by the Book live action mystery performance, a Halloween thriller acted out by library staff and photographed by “Loud Librarian” Marissa Preddis who has compiled a nice gallery on APL’s Flickr account and written up the event on her Loud Librarian Blog. Preddis’ writes: “In the course of several months, we bought a script, tweaked it, began rehearsals, promoted the program, created programs and “guess the killer!” sheets, bought a smorgasbord of food, engaged some “plants” in the audience to help us along, got props, and did some set dressing to the library itself.” A lot of work no doubt but a memorable program for those in attendance.

APL’s Flickr account has an extensive record of library events and is supplemented by staff social media applications such as Loud Librarian. Unfortunately, this great resource is rather difficult to find on APL’s website. If not accessed from Flickr, the most direct link I could find was from a gallery displaying APL’s new information desks. Worth photographing perhaps but not necessarily the most intuitive route. Users not previously familiar with Flickr may have a difficult time using the account without a page on the library site to introduce it. Though separated nicely into sets, many of APL’s photos have no tags, notes, or even unique names. Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web blog stresses the importance of enriching photos with labesl, tags, and notes to enable access and enrich content. It is difficult to say how many of APL’s patrons are visiting its Flickr account, but a direct link from its website and search-directing tags on its photos would no doubt increase this number.

Librarian Trading Cards

December 3, 2010

Ben Ostrowsky, Systems Librarian from

It could be said librarianship has a perpetual identity crisis. A profession oft-misunderstood by many of those outside of it and some of those within, there is no shortage of literature or opinions on the professional and personal image of a librarian. With the advent of social media tools and the buzz around their use in libraries, this struggle was suddenly thrust into the view of friends, buddys, contacts, and followers the world wide web wide. We weren’t ready yet!

Generally I am inclined to ignore the idea of librarians’ image as a real issue. Sure its fun to read about, but is this something that can really be generalized to a whole profession? Like everyone else, librarians are individuals and I would argue that it is their service and actions that define them, not Barbara Gordon or the New York Times. Are a given patron’s impression of you and your job really informed by anything other than…you…and your job? Librarians unfortunate enough to have misunderstood social media tools as a way of reinventing their libraries as “cool” may be trying too hard. People (especially teenagers) see right through this and in the end authenticity and self confidence will always be the coolest.

Now this is not in the least to say that social media and 2.0 tools shouldn’t be used for self expression, professional networking, and a good time or two. The  Burlingame, CA  Public Library’s AV and Teen Librarian Amy Pelman, has maintained the Librarian Trading Card Blog since 2005, creating personalized trading cards for  interested librarians including who, what, and where information and  a short interview with personal and professional interest questions. Amy’s goals are to stay “in touch and in the loop” and highlight “all the great people in our profession because we work so hard, usually love what we do, and almost always defy stereotypes!”. Trading cards are posted on the blog which is highly responsive to its readers, who are quite literally its content.  The blog’s popularity has spawned a Flickr group with various libraries contributing their own versions of the trading cards. A Standout contributor is the Carlson Library of Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester who provide a direct link to their impressive Flickr account from their homepage. Carlson trading cards employ some slick Photoshop work to transform their staff into the “League of Librarians” even going so far as to have the cards printed and distributing them to freshmen at orientation events, which is pretty much the greatest thing you could get at a freshman orientation event. There are a lot of good ones in there, but I think this is my favorite.

So a bit of creativity and a highly individualized approach to librarian image work with social media/photo tools to make a pretty nifty outreach tool. Juxtaposing the librarian with the baseball and hockey player is a charming bit of self-parody and Amy Pelman’s interviews give those of us who are interested an sightful glance into our colleague’s lives. The trading cards are a familiar format with a modern spin and it would nice to see more librarians getting involved with the project and getting creative like Carlson. I would be inclined to email Amy for my own card if she is still doing it in a couple years.