Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday jams (01/19/2018)

Everything is moving a little slower this week on account of the snow days, so there wasn't any new content on Ye Olde Blog this week. Sometimes resolving to be back on your shit means taking it slow and forgiving yourself when you fall short. Watch this space next week, I guess.

Tune-Yards have a new record out today. Enjoy this jaunty tune that never fails to make me chair dance when it comes on.

did you know there are people who spend their time putting popular music over the beats of children's cartoons? I did not know that. Rod from my main podcast, The Black Guy Who Tips, put me on to some new to me music this week that I have been mainlining. Here's an inspirational jam:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Jams (1/12/2018)

Erin loves to give me shit about not listening to new music, and it's true, I hardly ever go out and find the freshest newest music, even when it is music that I know for a fact that I will love. But sometimes I do, and that's why I can say I have a best new album of 2017. It is Darius Rucker's When Was the Last Time, in which he continues to get annoyingly better at country music which he was already really good at admit it. It's also annoyingly old people music about like grown up people shit and I am grown up people and I have grown up shit and sometimes I like to listen to music about it, so,

In 2017, I got to see Japandroids twice. And both times I was shocked by how two dudes could make that much noise and fill up so much space. This song is on my running playlist and it almost always comes on when I need something to help keep my feet moving.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Days of swim or sink

Two things happened this past week that got me thinking about technical services workflows--a scintillating topic to be sure.

The first thing that I noticed this past week is the program for the ALA Midwinter meeting of the ALCTS Technical Services Workflow Efficiency Interest Group. Three of the four presentations address how members of technical services units in academic libraries evaluated workflows and redesigned them in order to improve efficiency within their units.

The second thing was more a thing that happened to me than a thing that I noticed. When I was cataloging something this past week, I happened upon a record in Ye Olde Bibliographic Utility that seemed to have been created by a vendor. Stop me if you've heard this one before: it had many obvious errors, incomplete description, and sub-par subject analysis. I spent a lot of time working on this record in order to make it worth importing into my local bibliographic database. Though many people have griped about the issue of incomplete vendor records in public venues and listservs, I didn't necessarily mind doing the work because improving upon the work of others is at least one the purposes of a universal bibliographic utility. It did, however, get me thinking.

As the resources (both financial and personnel) of technical services units have dwindled, those who staff them have had to make choices about how to accomplish the nearly impossible task of doing more with less. And one obvious way that libraries can do more with less is to outsource the creation of metadata either to a metadata creation vendor or by using records provided by vendors. But, maybe now is a good time to ask ourselves that question that Rachel often poses to us: What is it we're trying to do here?

It isn't so much that I think that vendor-created metadata is universally bad. I don't. But I do think that the leaders of libraries who have chosen to move large portions of their collections off-site in an attempt to transform their spaces have to consider the fact that without the ability to browse, catalog records become the only means of discover for a large portion of a collection. And yes, while some disciplines have moved from monographs being the main way information is disseminated to serials being the information vehicle of choice, there are still those who find books a meaningful component of their research.

I can imagine it feels daunting to have the kinds of conversations that lead to the kind of workflow changes that the three libraries featured in the ALCTS Technical Services Workflow Efficiency IG program. People can be territorial about the processes that they manage and it's hard to give up the workflows that have become worn into our institutional memories over time. But it's the hard conversations and difficult introspection that comes with workflow evaluation that leads to real, lasting, and meaningful changes within organizations.

Technical services units and those who lead them are not doing their patrons any favors by choosing to pick off the low hanging fruit of metadata creation when it comes to reducing cost and increasing efficiency. The myth of the catalog as a useless and outdated relic of years past is perpetuated when the newly created metadata added to it is not useful or meaningful within the context of a user community. Sure, library leaders, you've save money buy accepting metadata of a lower quality that those who are trained in cataloging would have created. But you've also made more work for your public services staff and your users.

I propose that 2018 be the year that we in technical services librarianship stop choosing the lowest handing fruit. Instead, I propose that we embrace hard conversations, workflow evaluation, and identifying what we can let go of to take on the tasks that matter.

Stay positive,

Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday jams (01/05/2018)

It's Friday, friends of the Unified Library Scene! Time for some Friday jams!

In case you missed it, I posted earlier in the week about my hopes for libraries and those who staff them in this new year.

In December, The Hold Steady (from whose song, "Constructive Summer," this blog takes its name) played a series of shows in Brooklyn to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album Boys and Girls in America. I had tickets for two of those shows but, in what I fear is the first of many times where school got in the way, I didn't end up going.

Anyway...they put out two news songs in honor of the occasion and this is one of them. "Tequila takeoffs and Tecate landings" is a true The Hold Steady lyric if I ever heard one. Put your headphones on, crank it up, and enjoy!


I recently discovered a couple of Martin Zellar albums that I wasn't familiar with. They were released after I'd gone away to college and wasn't keeping up with local legends. Martin Zellar's "Born Under" and the collected works of his band The Geardaddies have been in heavy rotation since my high school days, so stumbling into these new songs was amazing to me. It isn't so much a jam, as Martin writes and sings some extremely sad songs about extremely sad stuff, but it is a comfort to hear these kinds of words in my kind of music, from a voice I've known and trusted for almost my whole life.

So, in a new years way, I present to you this selection from those songs. Moving on and growing can be like this, "I can't pretend that it wouldn't be like killing off a friend," "and I'm scared to let go of the only me I know."

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Don't call it a comeback

I was surprised to find that this blog has been quiet since September. While I had the best of intentions in keeping it up-to-date, the blog suffered as I spent my first semester of graduate school treading water. That first semester was such a humbling, challenging experience as I learned about how to balance my time, how to feel afraid and keep going, and how to make friends as an adult. And while I am glad I won't have to do the part of graduate school where you're just starting out again anytime soon, I wouldn't trade those formative experiences.

While I was busy doing graduate school things, I kept an eye on what was happening in libraryland. And as I stretch my blogging muscles in order to get into the groove of a regular writing practice, I wanted to offer my hopes for libraryland in 2018.

1. I hope that libraries and those who staff them will finally accept that libraries aren't neutral actors and, as such, can choose where they stand. I think that librarianship as a whole has bought into the idea vocational awe to the point that we believe that there is such a thing as neutrality within libraries and that it is our obligation to pursue that neutrality. But if 2017 taught us anything, it's that there isn't time for us to indulge these fantasies about neutrality. Those in our community, especially our most vulnerable, desperately need us to provide access to the information they need to live and they need us to provide spaces where they can exist without fear.

2. I hope that those of us in librarianship with privilege will stop using social media to be unkind about our colleagues and those who use our spaces. Look, I like hot takes as much as the next person and I've been guilty of being a jerk on social media. But I feel like a lot of spaces in social media have become an echo chamber for hot takes. And while there's room for dissent in social media, we should be willing to own our words instead of thinking that social media platforms give us the protection to say really awful things. In 2018, I hope more of us use our platforms to critique the systems and structures around us in a constructive way and to use our platforms to amplify marginalized voices.

3. I hope that all of us can make space for intentionally making space for the things that matter most to us. In my last Higher Ed. in the United States class of the semester, one of my classmates was talking about how much needs to change in higher education and how it feels really hopeless. Unsurprisingly, my comment was something along the lines of 'Okay, sure. But each one of us is passionate about a different aspect of higher education, right? What if we all put our greatest efforts into changing one aspect of higher education? That's how we change things.' Maybe the things you feel most passionate about are closely linked to librarianship and maybe they aren't. Whatever you're passionate about, find a way to talk about it or write about it or in some way give some of your energy to it. I have been had the privilege of being fixed in place from fear during most of 2017, but I want to practice what I preach so I'm going to start making space for the things that matter most and use my words and my work to try to create change.

I have the intention of getting back into posting more regularly in 2018. School starts up again next week, but I feel more confident in my abilities to prioritize and make space for the things that matter most to me.

Stay positive,