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Kate Sheehan's Posts

Tools Are Us

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on June 20, 2013 - 10:56am

 I’ve been posting about a more logical, less emotional approach to working with technology. But Nina McHale’s recent post about leaving libraries has inspired me to come clean. I’m thinking a lot about taking some of the emotion out of our relationship with technology because it’s giving us agita. Like Nina, I’ve been working in and with libraries for around 10 years. And like Nina, I sometimes can’t believe we’re still having the same conversations (and not in an iterative-improvement, baby-steps kind of way). Read More »


The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Memory and Technology

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on May 10, 2013 - 8:51am

Last time, I said I’d talk about memory, but I just went back and checked the post to be sure. Our memories are dark, murky backwaters where events shift, timelines change, and we’re never really on stable ground. The more I read about how untrustworthy our memories are, the more I feel like I’m sliding into a more tedious, daily-life version of the movie Memento (did I do the dishes? Did I send that email? Not exactly murder and mayhem, thankfully.)  Read More »


(techno)Logical Fallacies: Which is Yours?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on February 1, 2013 - 11:26am

Every teacher I know dreads being asked “When are we going to use this in real life?” The question is frustrating because the answer is often “Well, you might not, but I have no way of knowing, and yes, this will be on the test, and spelling most certainly counts.” We may never use algebra proper after high school (unless you count those Facebook memes that assume we’ve forgotten PEMDAS), but I think an argument can be made that we use algebraic thinking regularly. For librarians, there’s an obvious utility of being able to talk about books (and by extension, movies, and television shows), but surely those English class discussions help even those who would never join a book club as adults. The high school class I’ve been revisiting frequently is one where nobody asked how we’d use it in real life: a logic class I took junior year. Read More »


Hanging out with Publishers

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on February 29, 2012 - 6:02pm

I've been fortunate enough to attend two publishing conferences recently. Digital Book World and Tools of Change both focus on ebooks and the publishing industry, which, like libraries, is experiencing tupheaval as ebooks grow in popularity. As a side note, that growth may be slowing - The Book Industry Study Group and Bowker found that ebook sales for the end of 2011 (but pre-holidays) were growing, but not in the exponential pattern we've come to expect. Both Kelly Gallagher of RR Bowker and Len Vlahos of BISG were quick to point out that we don't know what this change in growth pattern means - it could be nothing, a temporary blip, or it could signal a shift in the ebook market. 


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Do You Really Own That eBook?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on November 7, 2011 - 11:51pm

Anyone who has watched even a few minutes of one of the disturbing number of hoarding shows on television and immediately felt the urge to clean house will be familiar with the panicky feeling one's own belongings can engender. Librarians on twitter are devotees of Unclutterer and Zen Habits and nothing brings librarians together like talking about weeding. Except, perhaps for collection development. Ownership is a fraught proposition.

Librarians are familiar with the "I loved this book so much I went out and bought it" phenomenon, where readers enjoy a borrowed book enough to make the leap to ownership. Anecdotally, book sellers are now witnessing a similar phenomenon: readers who purchase the print book after enjoying it on their e-readers. The purchase of a physical object makes an intuitive sense to us that license agreements do not. Read More »


Librarian, Robot

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on October 4, 2011 - 8:08am

 I’ve got robots on the brain lately. Slate.com ran an interesting series about robots replacing even highly educated knowledge workers. No sooner did I finish the last piece (about robots replacing scientists) than I picked up the September 15 issue of Library Journal, featuring a library robot on the cover. Clearly, the robots are coming. Read More »


Reviewing reviews

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on September 1, 2011 - 8:21am

I am entirely unqualified to comment on San Diego’s restaurant scene. But I spent several days there prior to ALA Midwinter 2011. Fortunately, I had locals to show me around, but it was in San Diego that I really started to doubt Yelp. Like a lot of online-types, I often rely on Yelp to find decent restaurants, though I usually keep a few salt crystals on hand when I skim through the reviews. As someone who spends a lot of time online, sifting through other people’s thoughts and ideas, I felt well equipped to ferret out a reasonably priced and delicious place to eat in a strange city. Read More »


Where do you draw the line?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on August 10, 2011 - 12:24pm

One of my journalistic pet peeves is “my three friends are doing this” masquerading as a trend story. However, it does make a decent jumping-off point for a blog post. I was chatting recently with a library director, who expressed some concern about promoting library ebooks. His feeling was that the infamous 21 steps to download a library ebook was too onerous and would only send the message that libraries were not capable of keeping up with technology. I had just returned from OverDrive’s Digipalooza user-group conference, where librarians gave impassioned talks about their ebook promotions and programs. Digipalooza librarians (an enthusasitic group, to be sure) cited ebook circulation statistics that were climbing ever higher and happy patrons (in their pajamas!) embracing the 21st century library. Read More »


Filter Failure Can be Fun

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on July 5, 2011 - 8:19am

I have long been a fan of NPR’s On The Media. It’s interesting to me both as a citizen who tries for a varied media diet and as a librarian. The show frequently touches on how we consume, process, and access information. Just before ALA, they did a politics-focused piece about the echo chamber that could just as easily apply to answering reference questions, looking for ideas in librarianship, or making decisions about purchasing technology for your library. Read More »


Changes That Make Sense for Libraries, Faster: a Conversation with Equinox COO Grace Dunbar

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on May 18, 2011 - 8:39am

A chance encounter with Equinox COO Grace Dunbar can make conference downtime into the most interesting session of the week. Rather than relying on fate and the hotel bar to ensure a chat with Grace, I asked her if she’d let me interview her for TechSource at this year’s Evergreen conference. In the course of conversation (sometime after she introduced me to pimiento cheese), Grace mentioned that she had worked at Stanford and been involved in the Google Books project. That’s about when I brought my laptop out

KS: What was it like to work with the Google Books Project?

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