MakerBrarians are Born

So last year I went to MiniMaker Faire and got hooked.  This year I went with an array of amazing library people and lost my voice talking to the 1,000s of people who go there.



We could learn a hell of a lot about how people are really creating and accessing information by keeping in the MakerSpace, not faking makerspaces.  We need to learn and yes we have some people who will lead (like Matthew in this article, eh?) but my biggest take away was look! gangs of people available who love libraries and can and will tell us what we can do with ourselves in our next iteration. We got pages and pages of brainstorm ideas from the public on what libraries can do to support Maker Movement.  I will be tweeting those weekly on the new @makerbrarianYVR feed to keep the converstation going and to keep our table volunteers happy.  Because the ideas made us all pretty darn happy, just look here:

20140608_153436 20140608_153540 20140608_162727 20140608_165858 20140608_165920 20140608_165924 20140608_165952 20140608_170029 20140608_170112 20140608_170218

Number two takeaway.  #VMMF is huge from fudge to 3d cameras to mozilla to ironic underwear (maybe those last two go together?) the event is two days, indoors, when the weather is good in Vancouver.  Its a start but not enough.  I resolve to locate, promote and engage public space in libraries to get more regular access in digestable pieces out and about for Maker Movement asap.  My commitment, you heard it here first, six times between now and next #VMMF a maker event at the library thanks to our amazing co-operative people around the GVRD.  We don’t have to own this libraries, step one is enable maker culture, cause really we always have.

And live from the Maker Faire Hat Space my Making + Co-op Top hat, eh?  Thank you BC Libraries Co-operative for sponsoring a table for libraries at MakerFaire this year.


ps.  Pretty happy I have Emily to help me.


CLA Victoria

As a kicker on library conferences this year in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan I got to go to and present at CLA in Victoria.  Its a conference but this year we also did trade.  I count myself grateful the atrium set up at Victoria Convention Centre makes this some of the most hospitable trade you can do.  Never mind the great Co-op members who deke in and see us happy we are not ONE MORE VENDOR.

Co-op booth. The among friends space.

It was great to staff this with folks from my NNELS team and the Co-operatives managers.  And, I was pretty darn happy when Scott Leslie endorsed my idea to bring an artifact like DIY book scanner, plunk it into a trade hall with a bunch of vendors and librarians and do one of my patented so-theres.  I’ve been doing this bookend conversation for a while now but seems there is still more to do. And look!  The radiant and lovely Jonathan Kift made the front page of the paper with the darn thing.


Jonathan Kift and the Libraries Coop Scanner from the Victoria Times Colonist Newspaper

Jonathan Kift and the Libraries Coop Scanner from the Victoria Times Colonist Newspaper

The attendence at CLA was something to treasure for me.  Some quality time with a number of pretty big minds that help me think. You know who you are and thank you.



BC Libraries and Space. Go jump in the lake this summer


This summer has been a wonderful BC Wide experience for me both family-wise and work-wise.  The two have collided around this coming Summer Reading Event from the Burnaby Public Library.

As a part of the free public outdoor movie nights offered in Burnaby I will be out this Thursday with the CooperativeTV gear supporting a public Q&A with space scientist Darlene Lim. Look also for a coming post of our video message for BC Libraries from Cmdr Chris Hadfield (someone who loves social media *almost* as much as I do) — note here it’s Chris Hadfield birthday that day so expect there will be some sing-along too.

Emcee’ing the event will be Children’s Librarian Vicki Donoghue and Pavillion Lake Research Project manager Donnie Reid. It is the Pavillion Lake project that has gotten me most thrilled with this to-do list item for myself. Pavillion Lake is a lake near Clinton, BC. In this lake space science comes down to earth testing space practice, and theory, with underwater submersibles, BC scuba talent and in-real-life science that blows my mind. In a just short time the idea of #gojumpinthelake and BC summers has taken on a new meaning to me, as has the busting of sterotypes I had about the depth (ha ha), range and breadth of the expertise that speaks to Canada contribution to space exploration and knowledge.

As I get set to show up on the field in Burnaby this week and help share as much as we can about space, science, BC, knowledge and exploration I am hopeful we can learn a little more, and enjoy a whole lot, of connectedness about the themes that matter most to anyone in the Province and especially all those kids who spend their summers up, up and away with the space themed Summer Reading Club for 2013.  Join the conversation on twitter at #BCLibrariesSpace

If, like me, you are feeling energized read more here:
Pavillion Lake‘s mission to research and explore with scuba and submersibles in aid of the development of coming human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.
Planetary Systems Branch
News from and about Pavillion Lake


To library is to digitize

I have been very lucky to work on a number of digital library projects, books, images and video. With each one I had to remind myself that the basics of all library services apply to digitization. Keep the end user in mind, iron-fist process for quality control and speak to the collective audience.

When I shared time to talk about digitization at BCLA 2012 with Adam Brownfield and as a lighting talk the response from peers was enthusiastic. I think it was because Adam and I were realistic and approachable about loving your digitization project large or small.


Courtesy West Vancouver Memorial Library Collection

As digitization takes off again in BC this month, digitization days and the Indigitization project. A ramble on the topic.

1. Equipment is reachable
You can get started with a very short list of equipment. The digital collection at West Vancouver Library was built with the following simple reusable equipment items. Desktop computer, Photoshop elements, Epson Perfection Scanner and 1 USB 1TB HardDrive. The equipment was research from other digitizing libraries’ practices and a helpful AABC — Association of Archives of BC — workshop. People are good at sharing their advice in this area, use it.

2. Sharing practice is easier than you think
We teach kids in information literacy land that it is easier and easier to ask an expert all the time. Libraries have to use this themselves. Connect with other digitizing peers as well as the leading lights, join a group or start your own. Look for posted info on equipment at sites like these:

3. Grant writing is a hidden art
I learned a ton from the administrators I know who write better grant applications than me. Don’t meander with ideas, its like a job application. Demonstrate your fit to the grant and run with it. Keep it clear, simple, reliable and keeping detail on the budget that is on-side for funders role is key.

4. Keep a budget of time and money
Just like all things library, there is the administration stuff. Keep your budget notes along the way and appreciate how your funders cycle the reporting. Mid term reports are a help not a hindrance.  Track staff time and test process for timing early — if not prior! — FYI in my best guess you really CANNOT catalogue anything in under 10 minutes. Budget cataloguing, training, and equipment set up times realistically.

5. It takes 2 years not 1
Nothing is ever done in a year. Library budget cycles are a year but really to get the move and keep moving toward a goal give yourself two years. Mustering interest, locating staff, navigating conflicting priorities. The annual cycle for grants applications are most friendly to writing your plans in July, getting buy-in and sign off in August for submissions in Fall/early winter and then equipment buys, Spring/Summer staffing and Fall launch.

Check out these helpful links and please share in the comments below you know about projects underway, proposed and imaginary. And.. promise me one thing.. digitization is storytelling, keep your collections work, just like your library books, local and meaningful and connected to telling the tales of your community, linking the members there and making the web better from that view. Think globally, act locally and libraries can be linchpin in the worldwide digitization movement.  Public library digitization is a special and important group. This is a great time to join in.

British Columbia History Digitization Program
Squamish Historical Collections
Prince Rupert Digital Newspapers
West Beyond the West
Ontario’s Digital Portal

Books are such a racket

Many think libraries are about books.  But that’s as big a myth as housewives — don’t get me started.

While some cultures focus on book in the name of their libraries in ‘English’ the etymology is a variant idea of deconstruction, re-purposing.. on books that I think of often. translating, loosely from *leub(h) (“to strip, to peel”) Proto-Indo-European base… from liber (“the inner bark of trees, paper, parchment, book”).  — Wiktionary 

I am a media librarian.  Never has my work been steeped in paper books, well never say never.. buuuutt … more often than not un-book: video, newspapers, cultural property, digital repositories.  I am suspicious of the book, the distance in my career they have put between us and the library as an institution of liberty. The stereotyped dusty book warehouses they brook us.  Book as brand a concern.  Librarians should be the best at putting the book aside, not the worst. It is needed now leadership and too often we trail. The book is NOT a universal good.  Perhaps that’s just my secularism talking?

It is the package of knowledge that I want.  The creation + content a light hand to form.  Heavy hand to diversity and relationships inside.

I know this is barely a post. Full disclosure I write it up here as ‘loong tweet’ to respond to this conversation with @sleslie and @clintlalonde two very bright guys who have worked with the books I hate the most — TEXTBOOKS.  Textbooks, those are like the nails on the chalkboard of books for me, like a school uniform. Anathema to my very alt 1970’s educational orientations.

Yep a librarian openly disparaging books.  Something I like to do.  Thanks for letting me do that guys.  And no.. I don’t agree that ebooks are especially bad ..

@maryakem @clintlalonde, no, “Ebooks” are such a racket.

— Scott Leslie (@sleslie) May 25, 2013

…. it is the whole racket. Books are a racket.  For one last contour I have to add is what Dave Cormier taught me with this quote (even if it was a long time ago):

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of  those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise. — Plato’s Phaedrus

Reminding myself, not to be hard to get along with.

Five Floors to an Ideal Library System

On a sunny day in the park last summer I had a wonderful conversation with one of my most important professional partners Jon. Jon and I have not shared an address on our pay cheque for more than 15 yrs but he is my co-worker. We were talking about library design and what makes a library. For the months since I have consistently hid that talk … for a standard shameful librarian reason, I lack a citation. But as the discussions of how to work out a virtual learning commons for BC begin I have to be honest about my hidden framework, so here goes.

Once upon a time there was a library design and idealization written that I cannot cite. This design is probably is 99% responsible for what drives me in library work. It’s lays out the essence of a library to be five-part. Sure it is monumental in its ideas of upward knowledge frameworks, but pardon me this time, I am a medivalist after all.


1. A library is at its base a Fiction Book collection. First floor should be where you find stories.
2. For the 2nd level ‘bookshelves’ file the information, stereotypical non-fiction collections, the research arms.
3. At the 3rd floor find a source of energy for design. A place to be taught how to make from what is inspired by story and/or learned from the non-fiction collections.
4. For a fourth floor look to studios. This is the next level, a space where an individual should be able to access group spaces for learning and teaching.
5. Level five is the presentation space, the exhibit space for what is made from all this upward mobility.

Black-figured neck-amphora, signed by the potter Andokides; attributed to the painter Psiax

Five floors to an ideal library system. One example, enter on level one and read an epic Greek story. Level two learn how pottery is made. Up a level take a class to learn to be a potter and up the next floor use a studio to create. On the fifth floor find gallery space present your work out in the public, from your library.

Borrowed Exhibit Pic from Emily Carr Library website

Ying Liu’s Ice Cream Spoons.. game 2009 Photo Sheila Hall. From ECUAD

This I claim is my framework for libraries and learning commons. Would you agree? Does this physical manifestation suggest guidance for digital workspace that is humane and powerful? I think it agrees with the components of a learning commons that say the library is a space to share your work, to access resources of multiple forms, a conduit to peer and expert learning support. What are the components in your mind and experience?

(…..And if anyone has the citation for this idea, which I think was from the 20’s, I would appreciate it.)

What we said and what we did

DataCamp had a number of really great ideas, hacks, questions and projects to tackle. These eight gave an intense four hours of work by campers shape. Urgent thanks to the ideas people who convened all the talks and the lovely and radiant scribes who took our notes. We’re pulling notes into a wiki space for library camps to come; we all agreed much work to be done.  Work we are ready, set to move on.

1. Throwing Good Data After Bad: How to turn something that hardly passes for “data” into real usable stuff!

More info: Mixture of coding tools (a few lines of R and Python necessary to utilize Google’s Geocode API and others) and web-based data subsetting tools
From: Alex

2. How would public libraries use open data? Any practical examples?

From Kathleen and Jay

3. Engaging our stakeholders: the language & promotion of hacker culture

How do we engage the less technical among us, including stakeholders and funders? Is the language we’re using holding us back? The word “hack” brings to mind Matthew Broderick circa 1983. How do we make the movement more inviting and less intimidating, and ensure we’re engaging thinkers of varying technical ability?

From: Trish

Also framed as…. Professional development/digital literacy. All this talk about data, data viz, hacking is not something I’m familiar with as a librarian working for a public library, in terms of relevancy and skills. But I do sense it’s important. How do I get in on it? From May

4. What are the “skills to pay the bills” for libraries with respect to open data?

More info: Office is so 1997, web development is so 2006, learn to parse with python? find a needle in a haystack with regex? usable data is not merely viewable (I’m looking at you pdfs!) From Kevin

Also framed with… Basic programming for data handling. Basic perl?
From Eugene

5. What literacies do library staff need realistically – and for /all/ staff digital literacies?
From Sarah F

Linked by MAY further to what sarah put here. maybe we need to review this Belshaw MOOC on the topic — or this: Mozilla Web Literacies Rubric

6. Hackathon hosting toolkit for youth

More info:
We’ve developed a hackathon-toolkit aimed at early adopters in the library and educator communities; we’d appreciate the opportunity to talk about the toolkit and get feedback from librarians at the datacamp on how we can make it better. Thanks to Kyle and Liam for coming to #yvr for this.

Also in the frame as: Organizing hackthons for library folk. One way to build digital literacies for library staff. What is a hackathon? Isn’t hacking illegal?

3. Data visualization tools

More info: Some sample datasets were run and visualization work done. But we need to do more. How can we advance the work done and map cards or interlibrary loans. With  which data fields, who how, when and where will the datasets emerge and can data be crosswalked between library systems for sharing. From Kyle

Also in the frame as: sharing library data. Our internal library data can be used to demonstrate our impact on community development. We should be making that data available to our boards, cities, and patrons and use it to tell our story. From Kevin

4. Library metrics for service shift

Data catalogue of library activity, ebook downloads, circ, wireless stats, program, article click throughs, catalogue clicks what do we measure? Do we need a glossary of what is data, stats, a metric etc? From Maryann for public ref desk librarian who felt this topic did not reach realistic questions. (notes for this to come)

Ideas that started us looked like this in wordle….

what we said

And this the look of our after-wordle….

results of the live notes from eight sessions at datacamp

results of the live notes from eight sessions at datacamp