Category Archives: Conferences

Internet @ Schools

A nice feature of the Internet Librarian conferences is the ability to cross over to the parallel conference, Internet @ Schools. I attended a few sessions in this track and met several librarians who also instruct at community colleges.

Summaries of the sessions I attended:

Flipped Professional Development (Dawn Nelson, Instructional Media & Technology Coordinator, Osseo Area Schools, Maple Grove, MN) – slides are at Because everyone is busy and large chunks of time and interest for professional development are simply not available, Dawn recommends breaking up tech training into 10-15 minute “slams” that anyone can fit into a busy schedule. To generate interest in the session, she shares resources, tools, and interesting links ahead of time. For example, to advertise a Skype tutorial, she will record a “commercial” in Skype and send a link to it as a teaser.

Other successful PD topics: twitter, blogging, Diigo, pinterest,, pearltrees, LiveBinders. Of these, LiveBinders caught my attention. This site offers a way for instructors – or anyone – to collect and organize web content from multiple sources and present them in a tabbed format. Sample LiveBinders show that they could be useful in business and libraries, in addition to classrooms.

Also in the Schools track, Gary Price showcased open web sites suitable for adaptation to classroom activities in math, science, geography, etc. Check out and Google Street View Player.


Historic New Orleans Collection

I spent several hours over 2 days in the research room of the New Orleans Historical Collection exploring the New Orleans Riot of 1866 because of the implication in my GG Grandfather’s obituary.  (“He was absent for two years in New Orleans, where he contributed a series of fulminating articles to the Republican Press against the political ostracism of the freedmen, which culminated in the sanguinary riots of 1866.”  The Gleaner and DeCordova’s Advertising Sheet, June 23, 1876)  However, I found no mention of him in any of the books, indices nor in the Picayune archive.

So I decided to use the time to become familiar with the names, events, and political background of the Riot. The Library staff were very helpful, and brought me three books that were, in themselves, quite interesting.  The first was a “slim” 596-page volume, the “Report of the Select Committee on the New Orleans Riots”, published by the Government Printing Office in 1867. It is a verbatim transcript of the hearings, testimony and interviews with most of the people involved.  The second was Caryn Cosse Bell’s meticulously researched “Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718-1868 (Louisiana State University Press, 1997.)  And the third was Gilles Vandal’s doctoral dissertation, “The New Orleans Riot of 1866: the Anatomy of a Tragedy (1978).

By scanning the references in the dissertation, I found a handful of newspapers of the time, which, upon querying the reference staff, led to the discovery of a union list: “Louisiana Newspapers, 1794-1961” (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1965.) This volume listed many dozens of newspapers published in New Orleans during the time.  Which led me to wonder how, when today, cities are struggling to maintain 1 or 2 newspapers, the City of New Orleans was able to support so many different newspapers.

Although I didn’t meet my objective, the exercise allowed me to visit two libraries in New Orleans that I would probably not have ventured into otherwise, given the rich offerings of the ALA conference and the need to walk about in the heat and humidity that is the norm in New Orleans during this time of year.  I also have some starting points for further research.

The Future is Now!

E-books are HOT in Sacramento right now.  It seems like every adult just got – or is getting – an e-reader, and many non-residents are driving into town to get their Sacramento libary cards so they can take advantage of our e-collections.

E-books are hot at ALA this year, too, and one of the most eye-popping sessions was “The future is now: e-books and their increasing impact on library services.”  It looks like there are two movements converging: libraries buying and circulating e-book readers, and the provision of DRM-free e-books that can be read on many devices.

Jamie LaRue contends that “the bullet has gone into the brain of established publishers; we’re just waiting for the body to fall.” This is based on stats he presented showing that established publishers are producing only 7% of published e-books now. With the proliferation of self-publishing venues like Smashwords, it’s easy to get your e-books into the hands of buyers without going the agent/publishing house route. He suggested that one scenario has libraries buying the entire output of an e-publisher, and just deleting the titles we don’t want to keep.

Chris Harris gave a brief overview of the available e-readers, and then Brewster Kahle and Peter Brantley talked about Open Library, which buys e-books (rather than licensing them) and makes them available for loan to the public through participating libraries.

California libraries will soon be participating in Open Library through the advocacy of the California State Library. This will probably put a lot of pressure on publishers and other e-book vendors, and ultimately make the experience easier and more intuitive for patrons who are all thumbs.

Library Ideas, LLC seems to be taking this arena seriously. Freegal is their music download service, and they are just launching a new product: Freading, which will make e-books available the same way its music is: unlimited simultaneous downloads of both new and older titles, but with the DRM that manages the check-out period.

My perfect e-book experience: the titles are discoverable either from within the e-reader or the library’s catalog; they are always available (no hold queue); downloading is simple and can be done from any device; the checkout terms  are clear, and the title can be transferred to multiple devices during the lending period. If I don’t like it, or if I finish it early, I can return it any time during the lending period.

I do not own a dedicated e-reader; I do, however, read e-books on my iPhone during my morning and evening bus commute, and on the iPad while reclining in the La-Z-Boy. I have Nook, Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Bluefire, FreeBooks, and OverDrive apps installed on both. I don’t like to buy books, because I rarely read them more than once, so if publishers, vendors, and libraries can get it together to create a model that works as well as lending print copies, I will be in e-book heaven!


New Orleans Public Library

I’m staying on in New Orleans to do some family history research. I’m hoping to find something in newspapers from 1867-70 about my mother’s great-grandfather, who was imprisoned in Jamaica and then deported. His obituary in the Jamaica Gleaner says he spent the next 3 years in New Orleans, and was recognized by the City for assistance during an epidemic.

However, family history research is notoriously full of plot twists and brick walls. So far, there is no mention of him at all in the card index to New Orleans newspapers, nor in the city directories for 1867-68. NOPL subscribes to NewsBank’s historical Times-Picayune, and again it was a dead-end.

So tomorrow I’m going to visit the New Orleans Historical Collections in the French Quarter to see if there might be something there that would provide additional information about this elusive ancestor.  Wish me luck!

Oh My Gosh, My Feet Were Sore!

I could hardly hobble out of my room this morning, so when I discovered I was in the wrong location for my morning session, I opted to stay where I was and make the best of it.  And I’m so glad I did!

It was a panel “conversation” among librarians from a public library, middle school library, and others about using audiobooks to engage students and their families.  Major points included the benefits to ESL students of hearing spoken English outside a classroom context, providing cultural enrichment through use of narrators with appropriate accents, providing “personal shopping” services by matching the length of audiobook selections to the length of a car journey, and showing kids it’s OK to do other things while “reading with their ears”: drawing, playing computer games, watching the Windows Media Player visualizations, jogging, etc.

But the MOST interesting fact to come from this session is a program called Sync, in which a classic YA title is paired with a contemporary title, and both are able to be downloaded as MP3 files free AND free of DRM from OverDrive for one week.  You get to keep the books forever and put them on any listening device. A couple of pairings, for example, include Shiver / Romeo & Juliet, and Immortal / Wuthering Heights. Sync also offers text alerts when new free audio books are available.

All the panelists were on the original Odyssey award committee, and all review audiobooks for Booklist. Mary Burkey provided a link to her blog, Audiobooker,

Libraries Build Communities

For a mere ten bucks, I signed on to partipate in ALA’s Libraries Build Communities work day. Due to an e-mail mixup, I missed the opportunity to select my project, so I was assigned to the St. Bernard Project. This is a nonprofit group working to help those still displaced by Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed or damaged 100% of the homes in this parish.

Eighteen librarians were bused to two houses (nine on each team), and we worked for 6 hours removing debris from inside the house, mowing down the weeds in front, removing the brushy jungle that had grown up in the back, and painting the street side of the house.

Just as we were wrapping up, Kevin, the owner, stopped by with his son to thank us for helping to take his house one step closer to rehabilitation.  They’ve been living in their truck for the past 6 years, unable to afford the repairs necessary to make the house habitable again.

Although the weather was hot, we had plenty of water, and a nice breeze for most of the day. Altogether, a satisfying way to give a homeowner a leg up, and great advertising for the library!

ALA – New Orleans

I feel privileged to be able to go to New Orleans this month for ALA’s annual conference. And I’m going to enjoy it, too, if this head ever clears and I stop blowing my nose! The doctor grudgingly allows it might be a bacterial infection and I will pick up the antibiotics, Flo-Nase, and nasal rinse apparatus this afternoon. And I will be better by flight-time.

The reason I feel privileged is that, in addition to all the library stuff I’ll get to see-do-learn, I can spend a couple of days after the conference trying to find more information about my mom’s great-grandfather, Noel Crosswell, who lived in New Orleans for a few years in the 1860s and allegedly was recognized by that city for services performed during a yellow fever epidemic. If I can corroberate the story, I’ll be very pleased!