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Kate Sheehan's Posts

Plugging in with Kindness

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on May 27, 2009 - 9:28am

I’ve been talking a lot lately about kindness and how important it is to our profession (hopefully any service profession).  On my own blog, I waxed touchy-feely about it but I think there is a very practical benefit to kindness. The return on investment can be hard to quantify, but it’s there. Just as in other service industries, the intangibles can make or break our libraries.

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Picturing a Conference

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on April 13, 2009 - 2:22pm

This year’s Computers in Libraries featured a lot of discussion about unconferences (including CiL’s own lobbycon) and the benefits of learning in an informal, social setting. I am all for taking in and sharing information while sprawled in a comfy chair or quaffing a glass of hotel merlot but CiL got me thinking about something else I find to be an essential learning tool: pictures. Read More »

The Internet of Me

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on March 23, 2009 - 9:30am

I wonder if Peggy Orenstein ever got a letter (or several letters) from someone she was hoping to gracefully lose touch with. Or had a friend who called her parents, trying to find out where she moved after college. Maybe she wished for an “ignore” button. More likely, she grumbled to a friend and continued pursuing her adult identity.

Orenstein’s thoughtful essay in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine about the impact of online living on the creation of an adult identity has shown up on twitter a few times and (natch) on Facebook. For those of us who joined social networks as adults, the question of how to navigate the often-dreadful tweens, teens and twenties online seems huge and difficult. Read More »

Can library techies rock Drupal?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on January 5, 2009 - 9:26am

The Internet has leveled the publishing playing field, according to common wisdom. No need to maneuver your way past print’s gatekeepers, just learn a little HTML and you’re off! No wait, that’s not quite it...not everyone wanted to devote time and energy to learning HTML. The level playing field had a few bumps. Blogs were supposed to solve that problem, so that if you felt compelled to share your thoughts with the world, you get yourself a blog.

Content Management Systems may have provided that level playing field for organizations. A CMS distributes the work of website updates and maintenance to many employees. A library with a great PR person or fantastic writer on staff can let them loose on the library website without worrying about technical skills or issues. But is the playing field truly level, or does the CMS present just another bump in that field? Read More »

Making Friends

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on November 24, 2008 - 4:52pm

Online life is fraught with drama. We all have stories of unexpectedly adolescent awkwardness erupting in our digital lives. Online friending can get weird enough when you're stumbling across high school frenemies, but toss in your coworkers, work friends, personal friends and your boss? Yikes!

The natural extension of the biblioblogosphere has been librarians on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the like. Reading a blog is easy, but trying to decide who to follow on Twitter or move into your “Friends” group on Flickr is hard. It’s confusing enough to warrant presentations on how to manage our online identities. Read More »

Information Overload: the Tooth Fairy of the Internet

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on October 15, 2008 - 10:37am

At the recent Web2.0 Expo, Clay Shirky explained why, like Santa, Information Overload is a myth. One meant to make us feel better and keep some magic in our lives, but something that does not exist.

The problem, Shirky tells us, is not more information, but outdated filters. This should resonate with librarians who have helped people use the Internet for the first time and watched the careful left to right tracking of their eyes across the screen, treating everything on the page as if it had equal importance… as if it were printed material. Read More »

SOPAC for the Smaller Set

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on September 15, 2008 - 9:48am

The Darien Library’s new website and SOPAC 2.0 have been live for just over a week, during which time we staffers have had a chance to reflect on our wonderful new online presence. John Blyberg offers a thorough explanation of the technical details at his blog. The impact of SOPAC on the larger library world has been under exploration by much of the biblioblogosphere. Behind the scenes, it's been just as exciting.

The transition to a new website can be a major undertaking for any library. Even if your previous website is terrible, staff are used to it. Like a family trying to sell their house, librarians and webmasters don’t see their own clutter, poor layouts or lousy artwork. However, like a new house, a new site is an opportunity to start fresh, to pick new paint and claim a new room to set up just the way you like.

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Posted in

Private Parts?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on July 23, 2008 - 10:30am

2008 has been my introduction to ALA’s conferences. Philadelphia, PA was my first mid-winter, Anaheim (“it’s a dry heat”), CA my first annual. The size of the conference made for difficult decisions, including pitting LITA’s “Top Tech Trends” against OIF’s “Privacy: Is it Time for a Revolution?” I chose celebrity over friendship and went to gawk at Cory Doctorow. Read More »

Authentically Real

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on May 30, 2008 - 8:07am

Stick a microphone in front of a famous person--a makeover victim, a home owner aspiring to an increased selling price, or a washed-up celebrity looking to reclaim former greatness (if only in his own mind)--and it seems they will all invariably announce their concern with “keeping it real.” My (almost) daily ritual of imitating outdoor activity on a machine plugged into the wall of a window-deficient warehouse while watching talking heads has proved to be an education in our cultural obsession with authenticity.

Library culture is not national culture. Libraries keep things real by not being imaginary, and authenticity is not something that is consciously pursued. Library culture has typically been focused on perfection and the willingness to spend time getting there.

But as our resources and users move online, can we afford to ignore the culture of the Internet? The web, moving faster than perfection, has handed everyone a megaphone and authenticity is online currency. Read More »