I was honored today to be a part of the LLAMA Thought Leader Series for Libraries, talking about innovation. I focused on my own career in libraries, and the aspects of things I’ve done that I considered innovative…efforts and projects that I thought were interesting. The conclusion of the presentation was talking through what the commonalities are in those projects, what I think is necessary for innovation in libraries, and how leadership can support said innovation. If you’re interested in downloading the video or slides, you can find those on the LLAMA website, or watch below.
On Wednesday, Sept 16, I will be doing a webinar for the Library Leadership & Management Association, known in library circles as LLAMA. This particular webinar is part of a series called the LLAMA Thought Leaders, which has been host to a ton of amazing librarians that I look up to: Ben Bizzle, Susan Hildreth, Barbara Stripling, Sari Feldman, with fantastic upcoming episodes with Rebecca Smith Aldrich, Steve Teeri, Tod Colegrove and Tara Radniecki. I’m honored to be included in such brilliant company.
I will be talking about innovation in library technology and leadership, and how I’ve managed to carve out the career I’ve had, from leading the technology team at at academic library, running a successful open source project like LibraryBox, building a new way to understand how our patrons use our buildings and resources with Measure the Future, and now as a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. I’ll be taking questions from the audience and I hope to have a great conversation with the attendees. Come and ask me questions!
Register and join me! 12noon until 1pm Central Daylight Time (1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific) on September 16th.
I was listening to an episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, Not a Cactus in Sight, (one of my favorite podcasts, mostly because I’m a total John Siracusa fanboy), and during their discussion of the Reddit community John mentioned two tweets by Laurie Voss that totally made my brain explode with thought:
The tragedy of all online community spaces is that the goals of “inclusive” and “safe” are, at the extreme, mutually exclusive goals.
— Laurie Voss (@seldo) July 13, 2015
At some point you have to exclude someone. You get to pick if it’s the people feeling unsafe, or the people making them feel unsafe. — Laurie Voss (@seldo) July 13, 2015
(here I think Voss is using “inclusive” in a legalistic/law oriented way, not in a norm or cultural sense…inclusion means “the ability to be a part of a community regardless of any aspect of your identity”…a lack of exclusion of any type)
Prior to the World Wide Web, I was an avid Usenet user, falling deeply into any number of alt. and rec. subgroups. Usenet was, in retrospect, where I learned so many things about “being online”, including tone, behavior, expectation….the entire culture of many parts of the social web were preceded and predicted by Usenet. Reddit is one of these spaces, as the concept and execution of a site that’s basically many user-driven bulletin boards is, in abstraction, just a modern execution of Usenet.
Reddit has been in the tech news a lot lately, and while I’m not interested in debating the pro and con of the decisions that have been made there, I think it’s fairly obvious that there’s a lot of terrible things on Reddit and that the response to said terrible things has been horribly blundered. I agree with the ATP guys above in their analysis…if you want to build a horrible place, keep doing what you’re doing Reddit…but that’s not a place that non-horrible people will choose to continue to hang out. I think there are lots and lots of other online communities that have been ran very well and have managed to be smart and useful places to have discussions online…the premiere example of this is probably Metafilter. It isn’t clear if Twitter and Facebook will do as well over time dealing with their respective issues.
There is, however, another social space that includes text based information resources that I am very attached to and fond of: the library. And in thinking about the axes of “inclusion” and “safety”, I realized that the rhetoric of the library world is very much the same rhetoric that is often used in the online spaces to justify what is usually horrific behavior. The oft-used quotation is Jo Godwin’s fantastic turn of phrase “A good library contains something in it to offend everyone.” Library collections are constrained by collection development policies that are driven by their local boards and communities, while calling back to the ALA Library Bill of Rights:
- Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
- Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
- Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
- Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
In a way, a library collection is a conversation between the librarians and the community, written not letter by letter or word by word, but book by book over the course of decades or even centuries. That conversation is under the same tensions that online conversations are as it relates to safety and inclusivity. When someone challenges a book, they are in effect saying “this is a kind of speech that makes me feel unsafe.” And as Voss notes, the library gets to decide who to side with: those that feel unsafe, or those that make them feel unsafe. In the library, that answer is almost always the latter.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t limits…each library draws its own limits of the things they are willing to collect. In my personal opinion, not collecting particular items is not problematic; for example, I would have no trouble as a librarian not purchasing nor shelving anything published by the KKK.
I’m intentionally trying to frame this in the most difficult way, because I think it’s a difficult thing to navigate. Let me state my own position, straightforwardly: I think that the Library Bill of Rights is a positive document, and that the library providing access to material that the majority of their patrons would disagree with is absolutely fine. I also think that individuals deserve to be protected and feel safe in their activities and surroundings. The tension between these two positions puts me in a disharmony…I dislike being contradictory in my positions.
It has been pointed out by those much smarter about these things than I that librarianship has inclusivity issues written deep in its core. While our collection development statements tend towards inclusivity of multiple perspectives on social issues, once purchased those collections are often described and presented to the community using a grammar that is anything but. For many public libraries, the Dewey classification system is massively problematic, and Library of Congress subject headings are no better. We have inclusivity issues baked into our classifications (indeed, it’s likely epistemologically impossible to categorize without exclusion of some sort).
I don’t know how these issues get reconciled. How do you square inclusion and safety of spaces, both real and virtual? What are your thoughts on that dichotomy? Is it a false one? I’d love to hear from the library community about these seemingly opposing perspectives.
At the end of this week, myself and about 20,000 of my librarian and library-adjacent colleagues will be jetting off to lovely San Francisco for the American Library Association Annual Conference. The conference is always a highlight of my year, and this summer is a particularly busy one for me. There are a bunch of responsibilities as a part of my Knight News Challenge project, Measure the Future, as well as my last set of Board meetings with LITA as Chair of Bylaws and Parliamentarian.
If you want to schedule some time at ALA to talk to me about an upcoming technology consulting or speaking/workshop/presentation need, I’m all ears. Use the Contact Form over at Evenly Distributed or drop me an email or tweet and we’ll find some time to talk about how I might be able to help.
If you’re interested in just saying hello, here are the places that you can find me at ALA Annual 2015!
Friday, June 26
LITA Open House – 3-4pm – Moscone Center 2005 (W)
Saturday, June 27
LITA Joint Chairs Meeting – 8:30-10am – Hilton San Francisco Union Square Continental 4
LITA All Committees Meeting – 10:30-11:30am – Hilton San Francisco Union Square Continental 4
LITA Board Meeting – 1:30-4:30pm – Moscone Center 276 (S)
Crowdfunding for Libraries: How to use Kickstarter to Build Your Community – 3-4pm – Moscone Center 2009 (W)
Sunday, June 28
Measure the Future Demo/Informational – 11am-12pm – South Exhibit Hall, Moscone Convention Center, Booth #3731
This is the first time that I will, if everything goes well, have a sensor demo for people to see regarding Measure the Future. I’ll be there to answer questions about the project, and talk about our goals and plans.
Top Technology Trends – 1-2pm – Moscone Center 3014-3016 (W)
LITA President’s Program – 3-4pm – Moscone Center 3014-3016 (W)
LITA Happy Hour – 5:30-8pm – DaDa Bar, 86 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Monday, June 29
LITA Board Meeting – 1:30-4:30pm – Moscone Center 220 (S)
Tuesday, June 30
Everything Tor! – Digital Rights in Libraries – The Library Freedom Project – 3:30-4:30pm – Noisebridge Hackerspace
I’m doing a one hour session at the 2 day library privacy and security event being run by the Library Freedom Project all about Tor, and how libraries and patrons can use it to protect themselves. The entire event is going to be bonkers good, so I’ll be there all day on Tuesday soaking it in. But if you wanna hear me talk about Onions for an hour, come see me.
Aside from all of that, I’ve got a variety of meetings, gatherings, and shindigs I’ll be attending. If you poke around the available wifi SSIDs, I’m betting you’ll see my LibraryBox v2.1 beta unit wandering around Moscone…I’ll have a bunch of stuff on there for people to grab, including the vast majority of my writing from the last 5 or so years. Keep an eye out.
I’m very excited about ALA Annual, and I hope you are as well. See everyone in San Francisco!
I spent yesterday hanging out at the GigTank Demo Day, listening to 3D printing startups pitch their ideas and companies at investors. It was a fantastic event, as is normal for things that the Company Lab is running, and I had a good time listening to the excitement around 3D printing as a technology.
It made me want to look back and see how long I’ve been following this technology, and I was dumbfounded to discover that the first mention of 3D printing on this very blog was in 2006. In October of 2006 I posted about a company called Fabjectory that was way ahead of the curve in providing 3D printing as a service for people. Then, not quite a year later I held the first 3D printed object that I’d ever touched, and it happened to be a print of myself as a Nintendo Mii. That was in August of 2007!
In 2011 I was asked to record a video by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee as an experiment for doing some information updates on technology between ALA Annual and Midwinter, and the trend I pointed to was 3D printing.
There’s a lot more that I’ve written over the years, ranging from my interviews with Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) about libraries and 3D printing to reporting last year for American Libraries on the 3D printing news from CES 2014.
All this time and interest in the technology is coming to head in the publication of a new Library Technology Report that I have written on 3D printing, called 3D Printers for Libraries. In it I explain all of the varieties of 3D printing and 3D printers, from the inexpensive fused-deposition printers that most libraries are installing to the highest end Electron Beam Melting printers that are used to produce medical-grade implants. I go through the pros and cons of a variety of manufacturers, and make suggestions for libraries who are just getting started in offering 3D printing as a service.
If your library is looking at starting to offer 3D printing, this is a good reference work to help you make some decisions about types of printers and pitfalls and problems you may see with them. If your library would like some help in making decisions like this, or in figuring out how to offer 3D printing to your patrons, feel free to contact me (griffey at gmail.com or @griffey on Twitter). I’d love to help you get to a place where your staff is confident in offering 3D printing as a new technology offering from your library.
ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas is going to be a fantastic conference for a ton of reasons, but at least one of those reasons is that there is a new exhibitor that anyone interested in technology, coding, and general hardware hackery should get to know: SparkFun Electronics.
SparkFun is a company that not only makes awesome hardware and hardware kits, they have an amazing educational wing that works with schools and libraries to teach Maker skills to people across the country. I had the opportunity back in February to visit and learn from Sparkfun along with a handful of other Chattanooga librarians you may have heard of. Their educational materials are top-notch, and they are happy to work with libraries who want to teach Arduino, coding, soft circuits, and a few dozen other projects.
At ALA Annual they will be in the exhibit hall, Booth 1870, and will have a ton of interesting stuff to look at and play with. Sparkfun’s Jeff Branson along with Nate Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library will also be taking part in the LITA Library Code Year Interest Group Technology Speed Dating event on Saturday, June 28, in the Las Vegas Convention Center Room N119. That looks like an incredible lineup of presenters, and will be a great program.
In addition to all of that, they will be hosting a number of short classes in the Networking Uncommons if you want to get a quick 1/2 hour introduction to Arduino, AruBlock, Scratch, or Processing…or if you want to stick around for the whole shebang and have a 2 hour block of technology awesomeness. They will be doing two classes of each:
Saturday, June 28 – Networking Uncommons
Monday, June 30 – Networking Uncommons
If you have any interest at all in Maker technologies, I recommend showing up for one of these…Jeff from Sparkfun is a great instructor, and I guarantee it’ll be a good time. I hope to see you all there!
Are you going to be at ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas? Would you like to build your own LibraryBox for yourself or your library, but aren’t sure how to make that happen? Well step right up, I’ve got your answer!
On Saturday, June 28th from 11:15am until 12 Noon in the Networking Uncommons in the Las Vegas Convention Center, I will be holding the fist ever LibraryBox Installfest! What does that mean? It means that you buy the hardware and bring it with you, and I will walk you through the install process, show you some tips and tricks for customizing, and generally answer any questions about the LibraryBox Project that you might have. I’ll be there helping anyone who shows up, so just drop by anytime during that 45 minutes.
What you DEFINITELY need to bring with you
- Either a TP-Link MR3020 or a TP-Link MR3040 router (both are about $35). Choose one, both work great for a LibraryBox.
- A USB Thumb Drive that you will attach to the router above.
- A laptop computer
The install process, from beginning to end, will take about 10-15 minutes. If you show up with the equipment listed, I will make sure that you leave with a working LibraryBox.
Join me in the Networking Uncommons for the first ever LibraryBox Installfest, and learn how to build your own LibraryBox. Or just swing by and ask questions. Or heck, just come say hello and grab a LibraryBox sticker.
See you in Vegas!
Over a year ago, I was approached by Ken Varnum to write a chapter for a book he was editing, at the time called Top Ten Technologies for 2017. He was persuasive, and I had this crazy idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about libraries and open hardware. I told him my idea, and described the argument I wanted to make, and he told me to go for it.
So I did.
The book ended up being called The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide and my chapter in it The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries. I’m pretty proud of it, as it’s as close as I’ve been able to come, after a couple of years worth of thinking and speaking and writing, to distilling why I think this is an important thing for libraries to be doing.
Click the above link to download a copy for your very own, or take a look below for a quick skim. Either way, I hope that it starts or continues some conversations on this front in libraries. As always, if there are libraries out there that want to do this sort of thing, build their own hardware, create their own measurement tools, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to help you. Just let me know.
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.
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.