eight things

Having missed out on the five things meme, I’m picking up on the eight things one. Blame it all on Josh, who tagged me.

    1. On Friday I found both my father’s and my grandfather’s World War II military papers–a registration card for my grandfather, and the enrollment data for my father–via Ancestry.com, which is making these records available for free through D-Day.

    2. Yes, you heard that right–my father and grandfather. My father was born in 1923 and his father was born in 1896. My father was a lot older than my mother, which is why he was trying to get into the army in WWII instead of out of it in Vietnam.

    3. Actually, my father probably wouldn’t have been trying to get out of going to Vietnam. How he ended up with me for a daughter is kind of a mystery.

    4. I dislike grass. Partly that’s because I’m allergic to it and partly it’s because of the amount of energy it requires–in this part of the world it usually has to be watered, which diminishes our already scarce water, and almost everywhere it has to be mowed, which, unless you have a push mower, uses up either gas or relies on coal or nuclear energy for electricity.

    5. The other day I learned that 80-90% of the water used in the West is used for irrigation, which does make it seem like taking shorter and less frequent showers maybe isn’t the solution to our water problems.

    6. I am a bad librarian and don’t have a source for #5, but it’s a statistic I have encountered in several places.

    7. Yesterday I went to the shortest graduation I’ve ever attended. Everyone here said it was actually really long, since there were so many seniors here this year. For “so many,” read sixteen. I live in a very small town.

    8. Today is the feast of Pentecost this year, which is my favorite of the major Christian holy days as, unlike Christmas and Easter, it lacks any commercial component. I read the lesson from Acts (chapter 2, verses 1-21),* which I used to sometimes read in Greek at my old church, where we tried to have it read in as many different languages as possible, simultaneously. It’s much easier to read in English.

There. In my generally verbose fashion, I’ve managed to tell you far more than you wanted to know. Go thou and do likewise, if you are so inclined.

*Actually, I read this text, from the New Revised Standard Version, but I like to provide multiple translation options. It seems in keeping with the spirit of the day, and also in keeping with my nature as both a Classicist and a librarian.

one year in, lots more to go

One year ago today I started my job here in Meeteetse. I put together a handout of some of the things that we’ve done–and I should emphasize the we, because most of these things would not be possible without the work of my coworkers–in the past year for the Legislative Reception last month. I thought that for my one-year anniversary, I’d post it (with various self-promotional hyperlinks) here.

In 2006, the Meeteetse Branch Library. . .

There are many more things I’d like to do, and many I’d like to do differently, or better, but for today I’m just focusing on all the stuff that we have done, which, if I do say so myself, seems like quite a bit.

misinformation quotation

I wish I had a source for this quotation, but I assume it comes from something I was reading in 2001, when I was teaching at the University of Iowa. I taught this nutty class called the Rhetoric of Drugs, and I was also reading a great deal about the civil rights movement and its aftermath at the time.

I’m spending the day packing for my upcoming move to a house in town (no more frozen pipes–hurrah!). I ran across this scrap of paper, which contains some notes on student speeches, a rough outline of what we were going to read and discuss in March, and the following:

Information is the raw material for new ideas; if you get misinformation, you get some pretty fucked up ideas.

–Eldridge Cleaver, former Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party

It seemed relevant to, well, I could make a list. I’m sure you could make your own.

planes, trains, and automobiles

I live a long way from just about everywhere.  (When the New York Times claims that they have nationwide home delivery, what they really mean is “nationwide home delivery if you live in a relatively populated place near a coast or major urban area.  They do not mean Meeteetse, WY, or even Cody, or, for that matter, most of the state of Iowa.  The Cody library usually has the Times about 3-4 days after it comes out, because someone who lives in Cody and gets it by mail, 2 days late, brings it over when he’s finished.  I know, I know, you can get it online.  And I do.  But I still find their advertising offensive.)

But never is it clearer just how far away I am than when I decide to go someplace else, as I did over the holidays.  By some string of miracles, I avoided all the bad weather on my drive to Denver, flight to Chicago, drive to Iowa City, train back to Chicago (detouring to Morning Sun, IA to meet up with my friend Sara and her mom and stepdad and then proceding to Burlington, IA to catch the train), flight back to Denver by way of St. Louis, and drive back to Meeteetse.  I even made a little map on Google, though it’s somewhat deceptive, since some distances were as the crow flies rather than as the car creeps. 

Anyway, I mention all of this mostly by way of saying how thankful I am to have had such an easy (if long) trip, and how sorry I am for all the folks who got stuck at Denver International Airport.  I hope you are all home and sleeping on comfortable beds by now, and that the holidays are starting to be a good story and ceasing to be such a vividly miserable experience.  I mention it also, though, because I think it’s worth remembering, from time to time, that, as I’ve noted before, the world is not flat.  We don’t all travel at broadband speeds, and things like the weather often have a greater impact than we imagine.  I find that strangely comforting.

I hope that all of you who travelled over the holidays did so safely, and that the days were merry and bright, even if the nights were long.  Happy New Year!

november round-up

November was a busy month, both for me and for the library. Here are a few highlights:

  • Many good things happened on Election Day this year, but for me the best one of all was that the cap tax passed. That means that Cody (our main branch) will get a much-needed new library, Powell (where another branch is located) will get a new pool, and Meeteetse will get a newly refurbished pool. As a librarian, a library patron, and a swimmer, I am thrilled about all of the above.
  • I put together a little website for the cap tax back in August, and it went live sometime in September. Because a) I like to do things cheaply and b) the cap tax committee was initially interested in having a blog (though that ended up not happening), I set up the site using WordPress.com. A look at the statistics for the site (the address of which was run regularly in the Cody Enterprise and was on all the propaganda publicity for the campaign) is a good way of getting a sense of what it’s like to live in a culture that is not as saturated by the internet as many places. The site had 2588 total views, with 234 views on its best day ever, and it had one incoming link. Park County has a total population of 26,664. I know that in many places, it’s crucial to do outreach on the internet and to find library users, or potential users, where they are. I’m glad we put the site up, but there was far more discussion of the cap tax on the op-ed pages of our local newspapers than there was online.
    Right after Election Day, I went on a short vacation to Moab, Utah and environs. There are pictures on Flickr, which I may someday arrange into a set, but don’t hold your breath.
  • Meeteetse’s six-man football team made it to the playoffs, although sadly not farther. Everyone in town had signs up wishing them good luck, including the library.
  • My friend Mitchell pointed out this intriguing reference-like service.

library education discussions @ ALA

I’m still toying around with my schedule for ALA (if you want to see some of what I’m considering, head on over to my calendar), but there are a few places I’ll be for sure, including, of course, the bloggers shindig on Saturday night. If you see me drooping, please poke me–that’s way past my bedtime.

I’ll also be participating in the Library Education Discussions that Radical Reference is sponsoring. They’ll take place at the SRRT Booth (#3450) in the Exhibit Hall and will be lead by current students and recent grads. There’s a full schedule, with leaders and topics, at the RR events page. These discussions grew out of the Library Education Forum that took place back in March, just as I was getting started at my job here. I wasn’t able to make that forum, but I will be moderating a discussion from 4-5 pm on Monday, June 26th. The announced topic is “Practical Skills,” so please come with your laundry lists of Things I Wish I’d Learned in Library School–and with anything else library-related you’d like to discuss. If you’re not able to attend but have things you’d like to hear discussed, drop me a line or leave a comment here, and I’ll do my best to do your points justice.

happy belated, and many more

I’m not quite sure how I missed it, but lis.dom turned 1 year old the Sunday before last. Its purpose has changed somewhat since that first post (for the real wayback feel, here’s the Blogger version), but then, my life has changed somewhat in that time, too. Here’s a brief year in review:

May 2005: I finish my first year of library school

June 2005: I go to ALA in Chicago and meet all kinds of cool people

July 2005: books they don’t want on display in Hillsborough County, Florida, one of lis.dom’s greatest hits
August 2005: a post on my other blog wins “Best Overall” in the EFF Blog-a-thon

September 2005: I got a Flickr account

October 2005: My display for Teen Read Week is featured in the PLA Blog.
November 2005: I have a telephone interview for a job in Wyoming.

December 2005: I turn 30!

January 2006: I fly to Wyoming for another interview and get offered the job, and I move from Blogger to WordPress
February 2006: packing, moving. . .

March 2006: I start my new job!

April 2006: I give my first presentation as a professional librarian and finally get around to updating my about pages

May 2006: I finish my first year of lis.dom blogging and find out that I’m definitely going to ALA

It’s been quite an exciting year, and I look forward to the one ahead. I plan to learn enough to be dangerous, go on more hikes in my new home state (I am beat after 8 miles on the Greybull River on Saturday), read more books and magazines and blogs, take more pictures, finish my MLIS, do more off and online writing, and have more fun. I wish the same for all of you.


As promised, here’s a link to the presentation I’m giving tomorrow on blogs, rss, wikis, and IM.  A good deal of it will look very familiar if you’ve spent time poking around in other people’s presentations (many thanks to Aaron, Meredith, and Jessamyn, and to Michael Stephens for the OPAL talk that led to this shindig).  Minor poets imitate; major poets steal, and the rest of us are just thankful that we have such smart and generous colleagues.

I’m still fiddling with it a bit, so if you see any egregious errors, do let me know. 


My hometown, Iowa City, was hit by a tornado last night.  I have heard from my mother and many friends, and so far all are okay, cats included, although everyone knows someone whose house was damaged or car destroyed.

The governor has declared a state of emergency in several counties; the University of Iowa has cancelled classes (the first time in my memory that has ever happened), and the Iowa City Public Library is closed today.  There are photos of the storm and the damage here and here and here, and Flickr has a growing collection of photos under the tag iowacity. 

It’s very weird to be 1200 miles away right now, and to have heard Dean Borg of WSUI on the national NPR newscast this morning.  For the moment I’m just  glad that so far my friends and family are safe.

how i got my job

The short story: I got lucky.

A year ago at this time I was a semester and a half into library school, and I’d been reading library blogs for several months. I went to library school because I already had two useless degrees (they call the MFA a terminal degree, as I like to say, because it leads nowhere), and librarianship seemed like a far better option than, say, law school. (I have great respect for the many good lawyers of the world, but after a friend told me that in law school they had lockers and bells, “just like high school!”, I knew it wasn’t for me.)
I had a terrible time finding a part-time library support staff job, both before I started library school and after. I got one letter that said, essentially, “Sorry, we were looking for someone with an education background and customer service experience.” (“Oh,” said a friend of mine, “they wanted an education major who worked at Wal-Mart.”) Apparently my three years of college teaching and four years of teaching at a whacky alternative elementary school didn’t count for anything.

Blog reading led me to follow the struggles that people like Dorothea and Meredith, people with educations and skills equal to and in most cases surpassing my own, were having finding jobs. I began to get worried. So I began to do the kinds of things that people suggested

  • I eventually got a job as a youth services assistant at a library in the western suburbs (and had the pleasure of being a co-worker of Rachel Gordon Singer for a few months)
  • In my archives class, we could either write a research paper or do an internship–I chose the internship even though it meant a 13-hour day and eating dinner in my car
  • I subscribed to the RSS feed for LISjobs.com/Library Job Postings on the Internet so I could get an idea of what was out there
  • I read articles at LISCareer.com and Info Career Trends
  • I joined ALA and got involved by helping plan the Free Speech Buffet for the ALA conference in Chicago (had I wanted to stay in Illinois, I think joining the Illinois Library Association would have been equally if not more beneficial)
  • I started asking my savvy friends for advice on how to arrange my resume so it looked less like I’d spent the past five years or so meandering through graduate programs. (You can see the result; sorry it’s a PDF).
  • I started lis.dom and got to know, virtually and sometimes personally, a bunch of enthusiastic, energetic, and extremely talented library people

Last August, I ran across an ad for a job in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Since Wyoming was high on my list of states I wanted to live in, I whipped out my road atlas and looked it up. It looked pretty good. So even though I had a full year of school left, I sent off a letter and my resume, just in case.

In the next few months, I sent out a couple of other letters, both also for branch manager or director positions in small rural libraries. I was asked to interview at two of the three places I applied; the third called to say that they’d love to interview me, but needed to hire someone ASAP.

I had a telephone interview for the Wyoming job in November and flew out for an interview in January, so it was a long process. But, as it turned out, well worth it.

I don’t know why I got lucky in the job market when so many other talented people have struggled. It may have helped that I was applying almost exclusively to places with populations under 10,000. It probably helped that I found ways to emphasize how my other work experience–writing and teaching–was applicable to librarianship. But ultimately, I don’t know; I’m just grateful.

So what about my blog? I put the url of my website on my resume, chiefly as a way saying “look, I can make a website!” but also because even without the website and the blog, I had a fairly sizeable web presence, and I preferred to have some control over its presentation. (Having just Googled myself, I’ve found that the results have been pretty much overtaken by biblioblogosphere comments, but it used to be a much odder assortment of links).

I know that a few people on a couple of the search committees looked at lis.dom. It didn’t come up in any interviews, and I don’t think anyone decided to hire me or not hire me based on the blog or anything in it. I do think, however, that blogging gave me stake in librarianship that nothing else did. It let me get my feet wet, and it let me join in a conversation about the profession with many of its best and brightest.

I enjoyed first listening to that conversation and then joining in, and I’m deeply grateful to all the people whom I’ve exchanged comments and e-mails and IMs with over the past months, and to those whose writings I’ve just read. You all rock.