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.

a trip to cheyenne

I spent most of this past week in Cheyenne, WY. Well, to be more exact, I spent two days in Cheyenne and two days getting there and back–it’s a seven hour drive from Meeteetse and even farther from Cody and Powell, our other Park County libraries.

Our business in Cheyenne was two-fold: on Wednesday several of us attended a Rural Library Sustainability Workshop, which is sort of a canned workshop developed by WebJunction and put on by the good folks at the Wyoming State Library. Thursday night was the Wyoming Library Association’s legislative reception, where we thanked our legislators for supporting Wyoming libraries (thanks, Pat Childers, Alan Jones, Elaine Harvey, Lorraine Quarberg, Hank Coe, and Ray Peterson, Park County’s delegation!) and encouraged them to support the Wyoming Library Endowment Bill.

As is so often the case, the best part was meeting librarians from around the state and sharing ideas. I also got to meet a few people I knew only from the web, including Digital Initiatives Librarian Erin Kinney, whom I know from Flickr; and Katie Jones from the Wyoming State Law Library, whom I know from their blog, Law Library Letter.

Now I’m back in Meeteetse–back home.

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.

blasts from the pasts and looks towards the future

In the course of working on a web page for my summer class, I was reminiscing about some of the very first web sites I remember seeing.  Many have gone the way of the dinosaur (the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids ICON, an alternative weekly that I read online in college and wrote for after I graduated, but a few are still around (I’m so happy to see that Fireland is still alive, even if it is described as rickety). 

Also still around, and now a blog as well as a repository of wonderful things, is Literary Kicks, which points to the coolest use of Google Maps I’ve seen so far: a map of Sal Paradise’s journey in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

The web site I look at most often these days is the fairly new InciWeb, which tracks forest fires around the country (and gives updates on them via RSS!).  The about page notes that InciWeb is currently being tested and will be “used nationally in the 2007 Fire Season.”  Thanks to an IM conversation today with Steve Lawson, it occurred to me that perhaps a few others out there in western states might want to tuck it away for future reference. 

Our fire is still burning, although many of the 332 Forest Service personnel who were here to fight it have now left.  A hundred or so of them were camped up by the school (and thus also by the library) last week.  People frequently came into the library to hang out or check e-mail or look through the books in our booksale or browse our magazines.  I can’t tell you how many of them were amazed that we had internet access.  “Actually,” I said, becoming a walking talking ALA quotable fact sheet, “98% of public libraries in the US offer internet access to the public!  And have I told you about our databases?  And you can download your digital photos using our handy memory card reader on this computer where I’ve got Picasa installed!”  Some days I frighten even myself–but I hope they left with a few more ideas about public libraries than they had when they came in.

wyoming librarianship: another day

Today was, while not exactly typical, interesting, and since people seem to like these day-in-the-life posts, and since I haven’t done one in awhile, I thought I’d write it up.

The big news around here at the moment is that we’ve got a forest fire burning about 30 miles from here, at Venus Creek in the Shoshone National Forest.  (And yes, you can now get RSS feeds for forest fires).   The whole area is blanketed in smoke: this evening the sky was dark and the moon was shining red long before the sun set.  My friends took some pictures of the smoke on Sunday, which I uploaded to Flickr.  When I left work today, there were bits of ash in my car.

Today was the day after the last day of summer reading for the kids, which meant that my coworker, who runs the program, spent the day figuring out which kids will get which of our fabulous prizes at the party on Thursday.  They’ll also get cookies from the Meeteetse Chocolatier.  In addition to the usual day’s work–recording statistics, working the circulation desk, walking down to the post office at 10 to get the mail, and so on, I spent the day typing up lists of discarded westerns and self-help books.  The Wyoming State Library has prepared a guide to the needs of the libraries at Wyoming state institutions, and I’ve been e-mailing with some of the librarians there to see if they’d be interested in some of our discarded and donated books. 

The population of Meeteetse doubled this afternoon and evening as riders from the Tour de Wyoming poured into town.  Many of them came in to the library and were pleased but surprised when I told them that yes, we had internet access, and yes, they could use a computer, and no, they didn’t have to sign up or show ID or anything.  I had planned to stay after work for about an hour to do some work for my online course before I went swimming.  There were still a number of bicyclists using the computers, reading magazines, and generally doing library-ish things at 4, when we normally close, so I decided I might as well just keep the library open for an extra hour, since I was going to be there anyway.

This evening I went to dinner with a friend at the Spoke.  Aside from the owners and staff, we were pretty much the only locals there, and so we regaled the out of towners with various tales (some tall and some not) and heard, more than once, someone say, “Wow. . . you get to live here!”–to which I could only nod and say, “Yes.  Yes, I do.”

wyoming librarians on the web

While it’s true that Chicago still ranks as the center of the library webiverse, we’re not doing too badly out here in the West.  Here are a few Wyoming librarians I know of on the web.  If you are one and aren’t listed here, or if you know of others, please let me know, and I’ll add them. 

Meg Martin and Katie Jones run the Library Law Letter, which contains “summaries for recently decided Wyoming Supreme Court opinions and Wyoming State Law Library Information: announcements, how-to tips, and services.”  I’ve already learned several good things from their tips, and they’ve given me some great law-related collection development advice.

A librarian at the University of Wyoming in Laramie runs a blog called Jag soker job (that o in “soker” should have an umlaut over it, but my keyboard skills are lacking), and she’s got a Flickr account with some gorgeous photos of Wyoming scenery. 

Erin Kinney, the Digital Initiatives Librarian at the Wyoming State Library, has been adding photos all summer to a Flickr set on the state library’s relocation

impersonation

Update: the link for the Bloglines account should work now–thanks to Mom for the tipoff.

Have I mentioned lately that my job rocks? And that librarians rock?

A few weeks ago, several of my colleagues attended Michael Stephen’s OPAL talk Ten Top Technologies for Libraries in 2006. They came away intrigued but slightly overwhelmed, and so my director has asked me to do a little talk about new technologies for libraries at the all-county staff meeting this Wednesday. I’m going to be talking about blogs and RSS, wikis, and IM. Actually, I’m thinking of subtitling my talk “How to Steal Stuff from Your Librarian Friends,” since I’ve pretty much been swiping (with Creative Commons or other permission) slides from other people’s talks right and left. Or, as I wrote to Michael Stephens shortly after I was asked to do the talk, “I get to be you!”

I’ll post a link to the talk when I get it up, probably later tonight. In the meantime, though, you might like to check out the little Bloglines account (with some Wyoming specific blogs, some general ones, and some fun stuff, but not too much of anything) that I put together to demonstrate the power of RSS. And, if I should happen to IM you on Wednesday, I’m probably doing so in front of a live audience. Consider yourselves warned.

palindrome carnival

Carnival of the Infosciences #32 is up and running at Tangognat, with verbal tidbits from all around the biblioblogosphere, including a crossword puzzle [pdf] from my fellow Wyoming librarians at the Wyoming Law Library Letter.  (And while you’re there, check out the post on word processing confidentiality, with tips on how to get rid of that metadata that Microsoft automatically adds to all your documents.  Apparently the tools for erasing the metadata also come from Microsoft, so I guess the master’s tools can dismantle the master’s house, at least sometimes. . . .)