Don’t forget that it’s National Library Week!  Check in at your local public library or your institution’s library to see how they’re celebrating.  Pictures from Slate’s slideshow tribute.

Last Friday, I attended my first library and information science conference.  It was pretty neat; I talked to some new people with whom I have a profession in common, made some observations, had several embarrassing moments (mentioned later), and got to hear John Palfrey talk about the idea of both information and generations being “born digital” as well as the Digital Public Library of America project, which is just incredible.  Gave me a new perspective on my job, the field, and the way I participate in both, which ultimately is the entire point.

Libraries: intellectually hybrid spaces by nature.

I did feel, though, that I was being talked about rather than talked to.  The first speaker of the day showed a video that was basically infographic after infographic on how people are accessing information now compared to several years ago, and the ages of people accessing it.  I got really excited, thinking, “that’s me!  That’s the way I do things!  Everyone here is excited to be part of this, too!”  The first thing he said after he showed this video was: “Frightening.”  Library directors applauded the technical services staff (old school term: “catalogers”) there for generally being the “most forward-thinking, adaptive” people in the library, and yet everyone was still repeatedly scolded for not anticipating the needs of a “born digital” generation.  Librarians, who tend to deem themselves “nerds,” were encouraged to work closely with – and hire more of – the “geeks.”  Which is great, and they can’t go wrong following that kind of advice.  But what about me, basically born with an Apple in my mouth, a freakish kind of nerd/geek hybrid?  I feel too young and inexperienced to be spoken to or taken seriously (which is partially my insecurity, partially the field, which seems to have very little faith in the abilities of LIS students/recent grads to participate in any real change), but also that I have valuable insight I can’t seem to give away.  So mostly I just tweet about it and wish I could figure out how to get to where the ideas are.

Old-school card catalog. Now we use the internet and these go in peoples' living rooms (like ours!)

And now for the embarrassing moments:

  1. My coworker told me that the conference would be full of “300-pound women and 94-pound men,” and that “no one would notice if I came in my pajamas.”  So I wore jeans and a plaid shirt.  I would say the majority of people were women of average size in professional dress – one or two people in jeans, one other girl in a plaid shirt.  Geeky guys, but no kilts, which, having worked for Apple, was really weird for me.  Then again, my nametag labelled me an LIS student, so no one took me seriously anyway!
  2. I went out to get my coworker – who doesn’t walk too well – a cup of tea before the after-lunch speakers.  I came back in while they were presenting an award, and as I was making my way back to my seat with the tea, everyone clapped and looked at me, all “Whoa, that girl in the plaid is getting an award!  Was I wrong about her!”  Then I sat down, with my tea, and the real lady – a 300-pound woman in pajamas – went up on stage to accept it.