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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Presentation I gave a couple of months ago here in Chattanooga as the first event in the Code & Creativity series from Easy Designs. Think it turned out pretty well, if you’re interested in LibraryBox, take a look.
Jason Griffey talked about his current passion: the LibraryBox Project, an open source wifi file sharing device that recently had its v2.0 funded on Kickstarter to the tune of $33,000. He discussed the genesis of the project, his ongoing goals for v2.0, and why receiving 1000% of his funding goals via Kickstarter keeps him up at night.
Recorded at Code & Creativity on August 27, 2013.
On 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.
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?”).
I 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.
At about 1:50pm today, the Nine Inch Nails twitter account tweeted this:
Tennessee: We dropped a signed poster at the coordinates of this tweet. White tube behind the dumpsters. pic.twitter.com/nA7gXpNH21
— nine inch nails (@nineinchnails) October 23, 2013
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.
So, as I write this, I am about 15 minutes from speaking in front of the Franklin County, TN School Board on the topic of prayer. The story leading up to this is here.
Below is the text of my statement. I can only hope that it does some good.
Thank you to the School Board for giving me the time to speak. As a librarian, I value the open sharing of information, and as a parent the ability to share my thoughts with you is truly invaluable.
I do want to start with my closing statement, which is that I hope that the North Lake PTO, and any organization affiliated with public education, can see the issues that are involved in the insistence of an opening prayer, and choose to end the practice. There are two reasons that I believe this is the proper course of action, and in brief, they are:
First, that the insistence of having a prayer prior to a meeting of an organization that has such close ties to our public education system steps much too close to the legal line between church and state. There is a clear legal line that has been drawn repeatedly over the years through case law, as it relates to the protection of a central tenet of our Constitution, that the prejudicing of a single religion in affairs of the State is simply not allowed. While there has yet to be clear case law on the status of a PTO as it relates to the Freedom of Religion clause, anyone with familiarity with the law (and indeed the County’s own legal counsel) would advise that if there were a suit, it is likely that the PTO and the School Board associated with it, would lose.
We don’t have to like this fact, but not liking it doesn’t change the status of a fact…that’s what makes them facts.
Given that losing such a court case could potentially cost Franklin County hundreds of thousands of dollars that I, for one, would prefer be given to our amazing teachers, I would like to avoid the risk altogether. This is the first reason that I think that organizations that are affiliated with public schools shouldn’t endorse any particular religious view.
The second reason is that not only do I think it’s the practical thing to do, but it’s also the right thing. The priority of everyone associated with the educational system, whether formally or informally, should be to make the best use of the resources we have to ensure the excellence of the education of our children. Opening organizational meetings with a prayer is, by its nature, exclusionary to any Franklin County taxpayer of any differing faith. As we are a multi-denominational society, continuing on the existing path simply ensures a lack of multiple voices, as it indicates to those of differing faiths that their beliefs are not considered or respected. A multiplicity of voices is necessary in order to fully grasp an issue, to talk through and see all sides of a problem, and to ensure that the most effective and efficient solutions are pursued. As they say, none of us is as smart as all of us.
I have followed this discussion as it has evolved prior to today, and watched the brief film of the meeting from last Monday that appeared online, wherein several of the community members remarked that “Majority rules”. The majority of people in this room right now almost certainly see no problem with prayer before a meeting. But in this case, I say that it isn’t about what the majority is comfortable with, it’s about protecting the the voices and opinions of the minority. If you’ll allow me to quote Paul, from Romans 15:1 in the King James Version: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Or in more modern language, from the New Living Translation “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves.”
In closing: I hope that the North Lake PTO, and any organization affiliated with public education, can see the issues that are involved in the insistence of an opening prayer, and choose to end the practice.
Thank you for listening, and I look forward to continuing this conversation, and hearing from Minister Tipps.
I'm Jason Griffey, a librarian, technologist, writer and speaker. This is my personal/professional blog, but I also write Release Candidate (focusing on future tech) and for the ALA TechSource blog. Visit my homepage for more.