hail and farewell

FriendFeed, my primary social network, is going away in a few short days — not because of an argument or a lack of interest or a complete meltdown, but simply because Facebook, which owns FriendFeed, has decided not to keep it going. I’ve gotten to know many fine people through FriendFeed, and while I’ll find them elsewhere, it won’t be the same. And the Library Society of the World, though it will doubtless also find another place to meet, won’t be the same either. Joe asked us what we’d learned, and since that thread will vanish in a few days, too, I’m going to repost my answer here:

Before I became a librarian or ever thought of it, I was an activist. I organized and demonstrated and got arrested and generally worked my tail off to try to change the world and make people’s lives better — sometimes those of my colleagues; sometimes those of people I’d never met. When I started working in libraries, I felt I lost a lot of that. I still believed in the work, but, like most of us, I was caught up by and stymied in the bureaucracy and politics that are the reality of most institutions, especially large, slow moving ships of state like libraries. The LSW gave me back what I’d been missing — purpose, immediacy, common cause with people who were smart and scrappy and passionate — people who did stuff. FriendFeed, as a social network, was just like the LSW — small, often overlooked, sometimes prone to crashing, and yet fast and collaborative. Suddenly we had the people and the place, and we were on fire — raising money for the Louisville Free Public Library after it flooded, taking down Clinical Reader, planning unconferences with people we’d never met, fighting for the good and making lifelong friends. That’s what this place and you people have given me — or given back to me. I’m eternally grateful.


And then, because I’m always looking for this quotation when discussing the LSW, or any movement I’ve been a part of that I’ve loved, I’ll add this, from Michael Rossman’s The Wedding Within the War:

We conducted a long struggle, assuming responsibilities we should not have been made to assume, heartbreakingly alone until the end, taking time out from our studies and our lives to do a job that should not have needed to be done. And we comported ourselves with dignity and grace, on the whole unexpectedly so, and with good hearts and trust and kindness for each other.

Confronting an institution apparently and frustratingly designed to depersonalize and block communication, neither humane nor graceful nor responsive, we found flowering in ourselves the presence whose absence we were at heart protesting.

LSW coloring contest, round 2!

Cross-posted from thelsw.org.

a woman carrying a pile of books and a man reading
image for the new LSW coloring contest; please see post for details and a printable version
Remember the last time we had a coloring contest? Wasn’t that fun?

Let’s do it again! Using my expert librarian searching skillz, I have located this dubiously copyrighted image and made it into a coloring sheet for you all. Download and print yourself a PDF copy (or upload it into Photoshop or whatever you want to do), color, embellish, destroy, do whatever, and then send it back by September 1, 2010 to

Laura Crossett
LSW Clubhouse North
PO Box 85
Meeteetse, WY 82433

Or, if you insist, you can rescan the sucker and email it to me at newrambler at gmail dot com (but if you send it to me in the mail, I’ll send you something in return).

Update 8/10/10: Thanks to LSW member N.Ansi, we now also have an .svg version, which is handily editable in Inkscape.

thelsw.org goes social!

Just a quick public service announcement to let you all know that the Library Society of the World website is all set up with BuddyPress, and that means it’s ready for you to go set up an account!

While I expect much of the action will continue to take place in the LSW Room on FriendFeed (or whatever comes next), I think it’ll be great to have a place with a little more permanence.

A few how-to notes:

  • When you first sign up, you’ll have to wait a minute or two to get an email confirmation, which will have a link for you to click to activate your account. A few people have had their confirmation emails end up in their spam folders, so check there if you don’t see yours right away.
  • By default, everyone who signs up for a new account will currently be made an Author, which means you can make posts and edit and delete your own posts. If you want to write a page or you need to do something else, please just let me or one of the other gazillion admins know, and we can bump you up. (I’m totally open to arguments for bumping the default level up, actually, so please feel free to make them. I was trying, in an unaccustomed fashion, to be somewhat moderate in setting things up.)
  • To make a new post to the front page, go to the Site Admin link (under Meta in the sidebar) and then click on the little New Post button at the top (or just use the quick posting option from the dashboard). If you are familiar with WordPress, it will look very, very familiar to you.
  • You can give gifts! When looking at a user profile, you should see a little “Gifts” tab. Click over there and you should get a little pane of gifts you can scroll through. They include a few of the badges from the LSW Badge Game; I’ll add more as they are made and as I get to it. (And please keep making them and adding them to the Flickr group.)
  • If you are confused by any of this, please drop me a line or catch me on the chat machine (newrambler on Gtalk; theblackmolly on AIM) or leave a comment here. I love helping people out with stuff, so it is no bother.
  • Most of all, as always, the LSW is yours. Go forth and claim it!

help the LSW send Walt Crawford to ALA!

On Saturday, Walt Crawford, friend to many of us, foe to the absolutist, “library voice of the radical middle,” author, blogger, lover of stone fruit and old movies and the Lovin’ Spoonful, and probably the foremost expert on blogs by library people in the English-speaking world, announced that he had lost his job and that he might thus not be able to go to ALA this year or to continue Cites & Insights. In the course of chatting with a few people about this, Laura Harris said it would be really great if the LSW could somehow sponsor Walt to go to ALA, with any extra money going toward Cites & Insights. Meg Smith came up with a clever way of soliciting help on FriendFeed without Walt knowing about it. After Steve Lawson and Rochelle Hartman pointed out this morning’s post from Walt, though, we decided we’d better go ahead and tell him, and I’m very happy to say that he has accepted our sponsorship.

Since Saturday night, when we first announced this project, 26 people have so far donated $815. If you’d like to help out (I figure this will get Walt to Washington, D.C. and lodged for a bit, but he might want to get back to California at some point), you can send your contributions

  • to me via PayPal (my account is newrambler at gmail dot com)
  • to me by check (Laura Crossett, Send Walt to ALA Fund, PO Box 85, Meeteetse, WY 82433)
  • directly to Walt via the PayPal button on Cites & Insights

I was a wee baby blogger five years ago, when I first heard the name Walt Crawford. Everyone in the library blogosphere was abuzz (we were not yet a-twitter; Twitter didn’t exist then) with the word that Walt Crawford was going to start blogging. I’d never heard of the guy at that point, but I went ahead and subscribed to this new blog, and to the RSS feed for this other project of his that people were always raving about, a monthly ejournal called Cites & Insights. I soon learned that Walt was smart and funny, that he had a great talent for reading and synthesizing information, and that he had little patience for grammatical gaffes. A few months later, I met him in person at the first ever OCLC Blog Salon at ALA in Chicago, and I learned that he was also personable and generous (Walt, you may not remember this, but you offered to share a cab with me, and you were deeply apologetic about not paying the whole fare, since you had to get off first).

What I really learned, though, was that Walt wasn’t cool because he had a blog (although it was cool that he had one). Walt was, and is, cool because he takes us seriously. He reads our blog posts and our FriendFeed conversations; he points out the flaws in our logic, and then he writes cogently and well about the ideas he sees emerging.

I don’t always agree with Walt, and he can be exasperating (although who among us is not, at some time or other? — I certainly am), but I admire and respect the work he has done. His one-time co-author, Michael Gorman, famously ranted about the “Blog People.” A lot of us ranted and raved about that, and proudly put up “Blog Person” badges on our sites, and added Gorman pictures to the lolbrarians group. Walt didn’t do any of those things. He read our blogs, and he thought about them, and he wrote about them — and he continues to do so.

If you’ve ever read Walt at Random or Cites & Insights (or just searched for your name) or talked (or sparred) with Walt in a comment thread, please consider making a donation.

help make thelsw.org!

According to my Gmail archive, on July 2 of last year, Sheriff Joshua M. Neff emailed a bunch of Library Society of the World folks to let us know that the awesome Blake Carver (host of this site and many others) had set up an embryonic LSW site running on Drupal at thelsw.org. We were all really excited about it, and then we hit a wall, or rather two walls: one was that none of us felt very comfortable with Drupal, and the other is, as you all know, that trying to design a website with a bunch of people — even a bunch of like-minded people — is an exercise in frustration.

Since then the site has languished, though on occasion someone adds something to it. People also still add things to the orginial LSW wiki on occasion, and drop in the LSW Meebo Room, although most of the action of late seems to be taking place in the FriendFeed room — and last I looked, the LSW group on LinkedIn was thriving, too.

The LSW is anarchic by both design and nature, and that’s as it should be, but when Josh brought up the Drupal site again yesterday on FriendFeed, I got an itch to do something about, and I’d like to invite you to help.

Right now, I am just working on wireframes — the information architecture and the general layout of the site. I figure we’ll worry about how to get Drupal to do all of this after we figure out what we want the site to do in the first place. Right now, the general idea seems to be that the site should both pull in LSW activity from other places (e.g., pull in an RSS feed of the FriendFeed room, etc.) and point out to those other places.

Inviting people to collaborate on a website design is asking for trouble, I know, but I’m going to do so anyway. I hope we can all agree that none of us will be completely happy with the site we come up with. We all have ideas about what good web design is, and while we probably agree on a lot of things, we all still have our own aesthetics, and we will all need to accept that there may be colors, fonts, and graphics that are Not Our Thing.

The discussion is mostly taking place on FriendFeed, but if you haven’t been by there, here are all the threads I can find on the subject:

Recent Discussions

Older Stuff

If you’re at all interested in helping out, please dive in! I suspect we’ll keep discussing things mostly in the FriendFeed room, but feel free to drop me a line at newrambler at gmail or catch me on IM (newrambler on gtalk; theblackmolly on AIM). Just be sure to bring patience, tolerance, and your sense of humor.