Monthly Archives: January 2014

State of the Union 2014 Tag Cloud

State of the Union 2014

Above is the weighted tag cloud of the text of President Obama’s State of the Union 2014 address. This is part of a series that I’ve done over the last 8 years, starting way back in 2007, as part of a visualization of what is on the minds of Americans. Previous years for comparison:

Over time, the issues shift from security to what appear to be the big four words from this year: Jobs, Help, Congress, New. Not hard to see where the focus is now for the President.

LibraryBox store is officially open

As of RIGHT NOW, for the first time, LibraryBox is available for purchase at the LibraryBox online store. Previously only available to Kickstarter backers, individuals and organizations can now pre-order a LibraryBox v2.0 for shipment in March 2014. The cost for a standard LibraryBox (MR3020 based and with 16GB of storage) will be $150, with special editions available for $200 that include a customized 3D printed container for your LibraryBox.

For those techies out there: LibraryBox is and will always be open source. I’m not going to be removing your ability to build your own or anything like that. It’s just that there are libraries and schools where it doesn’t make sense for them to build them themselves, or they would prefer knowing that the LibraryBox they end up with is tested and guaranteed working. The v2.0 code is very close to a release candidate, and as soon as we verify the code and push it to release, I will be posting up links to the repository on Github.

Here’s a link to the press release.

I’m so excited to see this next step in the development of this project. I hope that you are, too.

New Title, Same Job

Over the last few months, MPOW has been working its way through a reorganization. As lots of you know, we’re building a brand new academic library on my campus, and with the new library and new services comes an examination of how we do things and how we could do things better.

So MPOW went all-in, and decided that if we were going to change things, let’s change things. So we totally reworked our structure, going from basically 5 departments down to 3, moving from department heads as the middle-management layer to team leaders, and generally moving lots of the management structure into a more vertical organization. Amidst and among all of this movement was the general consensus that IT didn’t make sense as a department unto itself any longer. Instead, the decision was made that IT be moved into what is effectively a “central services” department (Administration), as a unit that provides support to the entirety of the remainder of the library.

With this move, my existing title (Head of Library Information Technology) makes no sense, as there is no IT department as such any longer. While a lot of my actual day-to-day job stays basically the same, I needed a new title. After looking around and trying to come up with something that was indicative of what I do as well as gave me leeway to chart a new course, there were precious few that seemed to click. So after a lot of deliberation, it looks like I’m going to be the Chief Technology Strategist for the UTC Library moving forward.

I have my reservations about how the new structure is going to work, and I am interested to see what happens. I trust my colleagues, and the management of MPOW is the best I’ve ever worked with, so I’m hoping that my worries are for naught, and that the new structure gives us what we need to open and run the new UTC Library.

ALA Annual 2014 and Vegas Hotels

So I’ve had a ton of ALA types ask me about the hotel situation in Vegas for ALA Annual 2014, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for awhile now…and then ALA goes and opens up registration. So for those looking for some insight into best bets for location and hotels for ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas, here’s my take on the subject.

First off, I’ll just say: I love Vegas. I would never live there, but I love going, visiting, staying there for a few days at a time. I’ve been going once or twice a year for nearly a decade now, for events and to see friends and I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of the lay of the land. So here is my take on Vegas 2014.

If you haven’t been to Vegas before, the main thing I need to emphasize is the size of it. It looks, on a map, as if the hotels are right next to each other. Even when you’re standing on the Strip itself, it can look like they are right there, easily walkable. The truth is that the scale is totally off, and your eyes are being fooled, and it can be a 10 minute walk just from the sidewalk to the front door of a hotel, much less from one hotel to the other. Some of the really enormous complexes can be miles and miles of walking, all inside the hotel.

This is complicated by the fact that the Convention Center isn’t anywhere near the Strip, it’s off Strip and WAY down at the end. So the hotels that are convenient to the Convention Center (the LVH, Courtyard Convention Center, Residence Inn Convention Center) will NOT be convenient to pretty much anything else in Vegas. The opposite end of the map (Ballys, Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Paris) are fine, mostly mid-Strip hotels, and Caesar’s is by far the nicest of that bunch, for my money, the place to stay for ALA Annual is either Harrah’s or The Quad.

Why? The secret of getting back and forth to the convention center is the Las Vegas Monorail, and Harrah’s and The Quad share a monorail stop. The Quad is brand-newly renovated, and was formerly Imperial Palace…under that name, it was not really well taken care of. But the recent renovations look to have improved the place. You can go out the back of the hotel, and be on the monorail and at the convention center in 10 minutes, when just walking inside Caesar’s Palace could take you that long to get to the door and across the street. Harrah’s isn’t fancy Vegas, but it’s clean, and is in one of the best locations on the Strip. It’s right next to The Venetian, which has a few of my very favorite restaurants (while you are in Vegas, you MUST go to Bouchon), and it’s an easy walk to the Bellagio for the fountain show. So, for my money, the place to be for ALA Annual 2014 is Harrah’s Las Vegas.

I’ll be organizing a 2/4 Limit Hold’em table at some point, let me know if you’re interested. :-)

Walking in the Mandalay Bay

Just a funny video testing my equipment and showing how large some of the hotels are here in Vegas.

I’ve got more video coming over at the American Libraries The Scoop as soon as the weather cooperates and people get back into the office, as well as a prologue to my coverage and the first of several upcoming posts about specific tech and companies that I think libraries should be watching. But if you want 6 minutes of me walking, this is definitely the video for you.

ALA Code of Conduct suggestion: open it up

With all of the discussion and fervor surrounding the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences (hereafter Code of Conduct) around the various library virtual communities (on Twitter, on Blogs, on Facebook, etc). There are several posts that stand out, (yes, all of those are from Andromeda Yelton, for my money she’s been the most consistent and thoughtful voice among many), but for a comprehensive read I suggest heading over to Lisa Rabey’s blog and following her timeline of discussions.

I have a suggestion that I’d love to see happen with the Code of Conduct. Someone (either ALA itself, or another group/individual) should:

  • Reframe and present the Code of Conduct in such a way to allow for co-signers from other Library groups.
  • Edit to make the language applicable to any Library conference.
  • Put the text into a system that allows for change tracking and electronic signatures.
  • Provide a space both for organizations to sign on, and for individual librarians to make a pledge to only attend conferences that have a Code of Conduct of this type.

This would allow state and international library organizations to easily have their own Code of Conduct for their local conferences, without everyone having to reinvent the wheel. I expect that the ALA’s Code is going to be a moving target, with edits to it for clarity and expansion of understanding, and so any system that does have a signatory function would need to track the version that was signed, or some other diff functionality showing how the Code has evolved.

Regardless of how it’s actually implemented, I think this would be a huge move forward, and would prevent local/state/international organizations from wasting enormous amounts of time drafting their own Codes. It would also ensure the spread of what I believe to be a very, very positive move for Librarianship. I’m thrilled by the positive feedback that the CoC has gotten, and I hope that someone somewhere can make the above happen so we can ease the burden for anyone who wants to participate, at any level, not just with the ALA.