Sunday, September 12, 2010

Responding to Phantoms  

I've just had the most surreal experience I've probably had as a library director. We've been dealing with an unhappy patron who was not satisfied with the various solutions we offered to address his concerns about not receiving his requested items in a timely manner. After several exchanges, another person joined the conversation, claiming to be a colleague of the person, and in addition to impugning my character, skills and competence, threatened to take her concerns public to the Board.

After much back and forth, including sharing information with the Board, some of us are starting to believe that this second person is a phantom. Indeed, when I attempted to make peace (and do the "neighborly" thing) by offering to have coffee and a face-to-face meeting, the response I received was, "I am currently stationed in London."

Definitely surreal!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time, Bodies, Fashion and Creativity  

It's my last relaxed day in Olympia; I fly home tomorrow so will be consumed with cramming everything into my carry on bag. I wonder if I'll be able to do a Rick Steves from now on and never check a bag. So far, it's worked for my last few flights. Like the fashion ladies say, coordinating is easy, just pick a theme. Mine is black, mostly. Shoes are an issue, though. Next time I leave the pumps at home and pack my sneakers since every morning I wake up early and walk down to Batdorf for my coffee and wireless.

Speaking of fashion, last night was the Olympia Film Festival's annual fashion show (You Have a Body), and it was amazing. Of course, I'm incredibly proud that Ilana was the editor on a couple of the best film pieces, but the show itself was thought provoking, funny, ironic, twisted and touching. "Stare Hard" was incredible: young women shirtless, doing things we wouldn't blink at if guys were doing them; the performance art by Bridget Irish was stunning, especially since her earlier piece in the show was so light and sweet. Finally, Sarah's song about being awesome, so funny. Experiencing something like last night gives me hope. Our jobs and lives may be outsourced, but this convinces me that Daniel Pink is right, the future belongs to the creative class.

I don't want to go all librarian here, but I keep thinking about some recent experiences and wishing that videography was easier. Last night would have been an incredible thing to film and archive, (and perhaps upload to MyLibraryDV?), much like our amazing panel discussion at OPL a couple of weeks ago with Terry Rosenberg, Littleton Alston, Joey Lynch and Patrick Murray. Two hours of intensity about art, words, meaning, and it was only experienced by the 25 people at the program. At least last night I got a great shot of Sarah and the Fly Girls.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

If a blogger fall in the forest and nobody hears it...  

It's official, I'm a terrible blogger. I've broken every rule of blogging the the relatively short history of blogging. Life just got in the way. Right this moment I'm sitting at Batdorf & Bronson in Olympia, Washington, enjoying their wireless and fantastic coffee. I'm not alone. It's Thursday. Why aren't these people working? The place is full--I had to fight for a table. Maybe they're working, I don't know. Could this be the future? Sitting side by side, not talking, just typing, typing, typing on our computers, together but not?

Ilana's new apartment is amazing. A family of eight could fit in it. Hardwood floors. The interesting feature? It's on the second floor of a building that is right on 4th Avenue in Olympia, and the single-pane windows don't exactly keep out the noise. I also realized that I'm too old to be using a shower with handles that have to be turned on with pliers. I've become soft in my old age. I've decided that a few days here will be very good for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings! Omaha Thinks?  

Part of my job means lots of meetings. As a person who isn't always as patient as I'd like to be, I sometimes don't participate as fully or as creatively as I'd like. However, last week, in addition to weekly check in meetings both with groups and individuals, a catch up with the fiscal staff, a Library Board meeting, and an update on a building renovation, one of my meetings was with two of Omaha's creative class, Brian and Trilety. The outcome reminded me why I love my job.

We met at Dundee's Blue Line where I had a wonderful iced green tea that looked like Mountain Dew but tasted like bliss, and started talking about expanding Omaha Reads to include books like The Omnivore's Dilemma. As we talked about sustainability, local food, financial fitness, and getting people to TALK, I realized that what we need isn't Omaha Reads, but Omaha Thinks. I know that one idea I became a librarian is because I love all that access to information, which really hasn't changed from the days I was besotted by the blue binders containing Facts on File, the green bound volumes of Current Biography and having my own copy of the World Almanac. I use different tools, but the idea is still about connecting people and ideas. So what if we really talked about all this stuff that is causing us sleepless nights? What if Omaha Thinks? What if everyone suddenly woke up one day and said, "Wow! Isn't it great that we have this terrific public library that wants to pull it all together for us?" What if we really starting talking about what we're thinking instead of shouting one another down?

I know I'm naive, but just in case anyone wants to try it, I registered the domain name.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thank You, Steve Cisler  

I just learned, via LJ Hotline, that Steve Cisler died recently. I was stunned to read it because like so many, my relationship with Steve spanned my awareness and involvement with the Internet, and thanks to the Internet, we stayed in touch sporadically, emailing every so often, sometimes with a gap of a few years in between.

I learned so much from Steve. He was probably the first person to help me understand what the Internet might do for libraries, and how it might affect me as a librarian. Everything I could say sounds trite because so many have said it better, but that doesn't make my thoughts any less sincere.

I remember talking with Steve after he attended a meeting with a group of Luddites. He mentioned that he was thinking of going offline for awhile. As I recall he did, and I remember thinking how brave this was since life is now inextricably intwined in being online all the time. I guess it was just another example of his foresight, wisdom and spirit of adventure.

Thank you, Steve. I think the world is definitely a better place because you were in it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Eddie Vedder, Chris McCandless, and Lars  

We're in Portland for the week. Ilana graduated from Evergreen so we used it as an excuse to fly out to see friends and enjoy the Northwest. I'm hoping also to maybe read a whole book.

One thing I hate about my life right now is that I'm too crazed to read more than about one book every two weeks, so I always hope it's a winner. This week's finish was a big one, and I love how I got into it.

I wanted to see "Into the Wild" for a long time. My guilty pleasure is ordering the entertainment DVDs for the library, so naturally it was on the list. When it arrived, I didn't have time to watch it, but Abe did and said it was devastatingly, heartbreakingly beautiful and sad.

I think I must have been in the library catalog to put another hold on the film when I noticed that we own the soundtrack to Into the Wild. I requested it. I love Eddie Vedder. I think he has an incredible voice and I love the poetry of his music. This work stunned me. I can't stop listening to it. Sometimes I listen to one song over and over. The music is riveting. So much so that I decided to read the book by Jon Krakauer. Same thing. It too was "can't put it down." He captured the individuality, idealism, foolishness and beauty of the life of Chris McCandless that must help his mother get through her days. It's a wonderful read.

I know the film will make this experience the trifecta, a perfect synergy of genius. It's Sean Penn, how can it be otherwise?

Speaking of perfection, we watched Lars and the Real Girl a few weeks ago. It's a perfect movie. I love to laugh and cry and be moved. It did all three. It's so beautiful we watched it again with friends. It's one of those movies that if we actually behaved the way the people in the film do, the world would truly be a better place. And wouldn't that be wonderful?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In the Sunday New York Times a couple of weeks ago, who knows why, Abe read an obituary to me. It was for Richard Pratt Prunty and was such a loving tribute from his children that I saved it. Obviously Mr. Prunty was a remarkable ("erudite, sesquipedalian, ebullient, chaetophorous, neo-luddite bibliophile...") man who loved books and words. Of course I never had the opportunity to meet him, but thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, creativity and daily delivery of the New York Times, I too had the opportunity to celebrate Mr. Prunty's life.

It's a convergence like this that gives me hope for libraries, dictionaries, children and the world.

In Mr. Prunty's honor I think all of us should look up a word we don't quite understand, and celebrate curiosity and the public library.

Thank you Prunty children, for sharing your father with all of us.