Category Archives: Personal

Maker Spaces in Libraries & The White House Maker Faire

As some of you may have heard, the White House is hosting a Maker Faire in the very near future. See this release for more details: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/02/03/announcing-first-white-house-maker-faire

Maker spaces in libraries allow everyone to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and facilitate opportunity for collaboration and community engagement that will aid in the next generation of STEM jobs. They provide access to tools (from books to 3D printers) and, most importantly, ‘access to each other’. Library maker spaces are powerful informal learning spaces that give local community members the ability to create, hack, and make their future.

A number of organizations are working together to show library support for making in our communities. If you and your institution support President Obama’s call for, “an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math…to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve,” please email Lauren at lmbritto@syr.edu to sign up as a supporter. Time is running out, and having as many names as possible on the list will help show the White House that libraries are a vital part of the Maker movement, and integral to supporting their communities.

The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries

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.

What can I do for your library?

The next stage in my career is going to be helping libraries everywhere be the best they can possibly be. How can I do that? Well, after almost a decade at the forefront of library technology, I have a broad set of knowledge that could be useful to libraries everywhere. I can help your library and librarians with:

  • Makerspace and maker equipment planning and training
  • Strategic planning for technology in the library
  • New building or space planning for patron and staff technology
  • LibraryBox building, development, use in outreach, gaming, disaster planning and more…
  • Implementation and management of electronics in the library, including iPads, eReaders, and other personal electronics
  • Communication planning and structural operations between librarians and external IT
  • Hackerspace/Makerspace workshops; Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing

I’m very interested in talking with libraries and librarians who would benefit from having my experience with library technologies directed at the issues facing them. I would also love to speak at events, staff days, conferences, or other places where a fresh take on technology and libraries might be needed…I have a rich and varied speaking career at this point; check out my CV for examples of the sorts of talks that I’ve given, and feel free to contact me for references.

I’m also interested in what libraries and librarians need, so if the above list isn’t what you’re looking for, let me know. Leave a comment, drop me an email, send me a tweet, whatever you’d like…let me know what would be useful to you and your library. What would be useful for your staff? Where can I do the most good, help the most, be the most effective? I’m interested in reinvention, so if I haven’t thought about your need, let me know.

As noted in my previous post, I’m going to work on LibraryBox over the next couple of months, but I’m interested in helping libraries everywhere be better with technology. Let me know what I can do to help you…email me at griffey@gmail.com and let’s work together on how we can make libraries even more awesome.

IMLS, Maker Faire, and Montana Academic Library Symposium

IMLS_Logo_2cStarting Wednesday, I’m heading out for a couple of really exciting events. The first is an IMLS Stakeholder meeting in San Francisco, CA on May 15th that is dedicated to a discussion of how library spaces are changing. From the press release:

The San Francisco meeting will focus on current trends, challenges and opportunities to consider for framing future investments in this area. The discussion will cover the following:

  • The Shift to Participatory Learning
  • Approaches to Technology and Space
  • Staffing and Mentorship Models
  • Connected Learning
  • Community Engagement: Partnerships and Programming
  • Measuring Success: Evaluation

I’m really excited to be a part of this discussion, and can’t wait to meet everyone involved. The event is going to be livestreamed, and they are looking for lots of community involvement, so please join in. The twitter hashtag is #imlsfocus and if you’d like to tweet me directly at @griffey, I’d be happy to ask questions on your behalf.

makerfaireThe incredibly awesome side-effect of being in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday of this week is that Saturday is Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, the largest Maker Faire in the world. This will be my first time being able to attend the grand-high-holy of maker faires, and I’m completely excited. I will of course have a few LibraryBoxen with me, and will be hanging out with Sparkfun showing it off when I can. Sparkfun is going to be located in the Intel booth, so come by and say hello, or just download some free books from the LibraryBox that will be stationed there.

And to round out the awesome week, I’m going to be heading over to Bozeman, MT for the Montana Academic Library Symposium 2014: Makerspaces, DIY Culture, and the Emergence of the Smart Library Building, where I’ll be delivering a keynote about…Library Spaces! I’ll be talking about how the digital devices that are coming over the next 5-10 years will impact the use of our physical spaces, how we can react to that, and how we can bolster our efforts in appropriately marketing ourselves to stakeholders regarding these issues. I’m really excited to meet the fantastic librarians in Montana, and talk about the future of our spaces.

As always, if you’re going to be at any of these events and want to meet up, drop me an email at griffey at gmail.com, or send me a message on twitter. I’d love to continue any of these conversations, or if you just want a LibraryBox demo, I’ll be happy to do that as well. Let me know!

Next Steps

While I have reached out to a few individuals, and I have posted about it around social media, I realized that I haven’t actually formally said anything here, the publication-of-record for myself, as it were. With the increase in effort on LibraryBox as a result of the Knight Foundation Prototype grant funding and a general desire to find a way to be more effective in helping libraries in the US and around the world, I’m going to be transitioning into splitting my time between the LibraryBox Project and working as an independent consultant and speaker for libraries everywhere. This does mean that I will be moving out of my position at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library.

I don’t have a timetable for this move just yet. Leaving UTC is going to be incredibly hard, as it’s been my library home for nearly a decade now. We’re just a few months from opening our brand new academic library, something that has been the focus of my working life for nearly 7 years. But I find myself being drawn to helping libraries at a broader level than I can manage at a single institution. When I started at UTC, the library didn’t offer Microsoft Office on their computers, maintained a website that was just a series of flat HTML files, and had an IT department of 2. We have 4-5, soon to be 6-7 people dedicated to IT in the library now, we’ve managed 2 complete website revisions, gone through an ILS transition, more than doubled the number of computers we have available for students, launched a variety of blogs, an internal wiki, and a social media presence, and so much more. There is literally not a single part of the Library’s IT infrastructure that has not changed in the last 9 years, and I could not be prouder of what I’ve helped to accomplish at UTC. I’ve had fantastic managers, wonderful co-workers, and amazing friends at UTC that have supported me to this point in my library work, and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.

There is still much to do between now and leaving UTC, and I’m going to start blogging more regularly about the transition and what I can bring to libraries as a consultant and speaker. This is, as Warren Ellis says, “…a strange and not entirely comfortable time to be alive.” I’m excited about this next part of my library journey, partially because it scares me to death. I’m leaving a tenured Associate Professor position in order to build something that I created, on the hope that the library community finds it valuable enough to support.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about what I think I can bring to your organizations. For now, I’m going to work on finalizing my projects at UTC, try and find a way of handing off almost a decade of knowledge about the UTC Library, and keep my eyes focused on the horizon I’m driving towards. If you’d like to talk to me about consulting, speaking, or teaching for your library, organization, or conference, drop me a line at griffey at gmail.com.

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.

CES 2014 and American Libraries

Once again I will be venturing forth in the first week of the new year in order to try and wrap my head around the largest consumer electronics convention in the world: CES 2104. Last year I tried a sort of crowd-funded coverage model, but this year I was approached by American Libraries to cover it for them! That means this year you’ll be getting my take on the newest tech over at the American Libraries Scoop blog, as well as here on Pattern Recognition. For anything that I think is of interest to libraries, I’ll be doing some video, photos, and write ups over on The Scoop, and then general tech stuff will be folded in here at PatRec. I’ll do some cross-linking so that people don’t miss anything, though. If you’d like to see the sort of coverage I’ve done in the past, you can take a look at the archives.

Here’s the bit where you can help! If you have any particular tech you’d like me to take a special look at, or company that you’d like some more info about…really, anything you’d like to know more about, let me know! You can leave a comment here on the post, or follow me on Twitter (@griffey) and let me know there. I’ll be tweeting pretty aggressively from CES, so it’ll be easy to follow along with what I’m seeing.

Let me know what you’d like to hear about, and I’ll do my best to find some information and share it.

#libtechgender: my world and hers

So I’m quoted in this truly excellent post over on Across Divided Networks by Andromeda Yelton (a pretty apt blog title, given the content of the post). As she notes, we were discussing this post on unpaid labor and open source software, which isn’t so much about that as it is the myth of meritocracy and the gender bias of open source.

I appreciate that she considers me a feminist, and it is very true that I work hard to listen and be aware of gender issues in librarianship and academia. One of my wife’s specialties is gender issues in Latin American literature, and we’ve spent much of our lives together talking about gender issues and feminist and queer literature. I have, all too often, been in a position of running interference for a female friend at a conference when an asshole didn’t take the hint that she wasn’t interested in talking/interacting/being the same space. It’s hard to even write that, since it has the capacity to come across as “oh look, the white academic technology guy to the rescue”…I assure you, that’s not the point. My point is that even with all this, even with years, decades of being aware and watchful and trying desperately to understand and affect the world to make it better for my friends and colleagues…I still didn’t realize. And that scares me, badly.

It scares me because, while I’ve self-identified as a feminist for decades, and tried to ensure that my actions reflected this, it wasn’t until 6 years ago that I got a dose of reality that shakes me daily.

image

It’s trite, but having a daughter changed everything. It changed how I looked at things, moved my attentions from “concerns about equals” (eg, my friends and colleagues) to trying to figure out how to reshape the world that revolves around someone who cannot affect it herself. Eliza is still a child, and while she’s pretty sure that she’s Very Grown Up by now, I know that the world is out there, waiting to push against her delight at technology. That there are boys who even now are in her class that tell her girls don’t build robots and I want to find a way to change that future. It wasn’t until Eliza that I realized that this particular fight wasn’t for the people I know, it’s not for my friends, much as I love all of you. It’s for her.

And that’s why I was so upset at not seeing. Because if it’s true, and that there are gaps in the world that are paradigm-chasms, that I can’t see across because I don’t have the right tools or because I don’t stand in the right place, then I don’t know if I’m seeing the things I need to change for her…if I’m helping to make the world a place that she can inhabit without fear. And all I can do is keep listening, and keep watching, and try like hell to support those that ARE capable of seeing and doing and changing, and I have to hope that it’s enough.

So please don’t give up, Andromeda and Rosy and Bess and Rachel and Jenica and Sarah and Cindi and Becky and Boyhun and Dorothea and all of the other incredible people who can see, and hear, and are fighting, fighting. Thank you, from me, but mostly for Eliza.

Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013

IMG_0901On Saturday morning, Oct 26th, I set out towards the Georgia Tech campus to be a Maker at the 2013 Atlanta Mini Maker Faire. Way back in August I was contacted by one of the organizers, David, who asked if I would be interested in setting up a table to promote LibraryBox. The organizers saw it as a result of the Kickstarter Campaign, and thought it would be a good project to have as a part of the Faire.

I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to take LibraryBox and put it in front ofthat many people, especially people who were coming out and interested in Making things. I had with me one LibraryBox running on a 6600mAh battery, and another running off a solar panel (the first that I’m aware of, certainly the first I’ve built). I also had around 300 or so fliers I had printed, stickers, buttons, and other swag to give out to the slavering hoards.

Solar LibraryBox

The Faire opened at 10am, and I was totally unprepared for the onslaught. I know that people overuse the word “literally”, but I _literally_ only stopped talking for 10 seconds or so at a time between 10am and 5pm. There was a constant parade of people in front of me, usually 4-8 of them, all interested and asking questions. As with any tech product, I got a huge range of questions from the creepy (“Are you SURE that the NSA can’t track me if I share files on this thing”) to the technical (“So what’s the clockspeed of the chip this is running?”) to the spot on (“So we could use this to share files with other campers when we’re in the woods?”).

LibraryBox SwagI was totally out of fliers by 2pm, and had to grab the last one to tape it down so people could take pics with their cell phones. I came back with less than 10 stickers total (out of several hundred). And I gave away about $20 worth of halloween candy. It was awesome and cool and exhausting and I definitely want to do it again.

If anyone knows of any similar Maker style events in the southeast (or anywhere, really) that would benefit from having some LibraryBox action, drop me a note! I may start actively seeking out more of these sorts of events to try and get the word out.

Twitter & Nine Inch Nails

At about 1:50pm today, the Nine Inch Nails twitter account tweeted this:

I was browsing Twitter via Tweetbot on my phone while waiting for a document to load on my main computer when the tweet caught my eye. My first thought was “I didn’t know they were playing in TN” and then I noticed the geolocation stamp on the tweet: East Ridge, TN. That’s 10 minutes from my library, just up the road next to I-75.

!!!!!!!

My first thoughts were all about how to track down the location via technology. getting the latitude and longitude from the tweet and mapping it. Then I realized that you could very faintly see a sign in the background of the photo, but it was unreadable. But the photo looked like a motel, so a quick google search for “East Ridge, TN motel” got me a list of them…and the Waverly Motel was the winner. Easy to see the letters once you have a pattern to match them to.

Turns out, simple research work beats fancy tech solutions in this case, because…after quick drive out, a little bit of visual navigation to identify the dumpster location, and…
photo

 

I’m now the proud owner of a Hesitation Marks poster signed by what looks to be every member of Nine Inch Nails. OMFG.