small communities

This morning when I dropped my daughter off at daycare, Ms. Amanda said, “I don’t think I’ve seen you in jeans, before.” I smiled, and said I only had meetings with library staff and two faculty who already know me well, so I didn’t have to dress for anyone but me today. (Then Gwyneth spit up all over my leg. Baby puke cleans off denim better than wool trousers, anyway.) Not five minutes later, as I sat playing with my girl before going to my office, another parent dropped off his son in the Infant Room. That parent is also a campus colleague, and an alumnus of the College, and a member of our Alumni Board, to whom I had given a presentation over the weekend, on our campus Bicentennial in 2016.

While sitting on the floor in jeans and a sweater, holding an adorably overalls-clad little girl covered in spit-up, I invited him to join our committee as we do our final planning work, talked about some of the challenges we’re working around, and batted around a few ideas for solutions.

Small campuses, and small towns, are full of those connections, those moments of serendipity, and the chances to make them wonderful or to fail at them miserably. On small campuses, and in small towns, we’re always “on” — on duty, on the job, on our best behavior, on the record. You never know who knows who, who is related to whom, works with the other one, is married to another, or is part of the board of the next. Everyone has the potential to be connected in visible and invisible ways to everything you touch, and so everything you touch and everyone you see has value, potential, and, if you’re careless, pitfalls. Small professions like librarianship are the same. Every action has an echo, every connection has a network, and every choice has a legacy.

Small communities require that we not be careless with the human capital of our connectedness. I try not to be careless, but I’ve forgotten before, and I’ll forget again, and be forced to pull my foot out of my mouth. This morning, though, covered in denim and baby, I got it right.



we sink to new depths

I woke up this morning to an anonymous commenter sarcastically attacking me for writing that Stephen Abram should apologize for the “Jane, you ignorant slut!” debacle, and accusing me of failing to apologize for my own talk at Charleston. I’m not going to re-engage with that beyond saying that I did  apologize as publicly as I could for hurting domestic violence survivors, and here is the link. But it started me thinking. Thinking, as I prepped for my day at work today, a day which includes the first meeting of this year’s campus Diversity in Action Coalition, in which we […] keep reading…

bigger is only sometimes better

So, I went to ALA, again. My first ALA was Midwinter, in Boston, which I attended because it was drive-able (and I got to stay at the Four Seasons at conference registration rates). I presented at New Orleans, and went to Anaheim to present and attend various trainings and workshops, then went to Chicago because that’s home, and I went this year to participate in some panel discussions and also to accept the 2014 HARRASSOWITZ Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award. At each of those, I attended sessions, as well, and had a chance to hear speakers I wouldn’t otherwise have […] keep reading…

A small object lesson about the scholarly communication ecosystem

Yesterday I started following links and ended up at the supplementary material for the article “Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles“, which reminded me that I want to read it in full. And while PNAS has OA content, the thing I want is not yet available. So I wrestled with our discovery layer for a while, realized it was never going to find an “early access” article indexed there, and submitted an ILL request by filling out the Illiad form manually. Today, I got one of our standard ILL replies from our Collection Building staff. As I started reading, and saw […] keep reading…

Driveby observation on acronyms and initialisms

Three SUNY groups came up in a meeting this morning: The SUNY Council of Library Directors The SUNY Moodle Users Group The SUNY Chief Academic Officers When you treat them as initialisms, they become, respectively in our communal awareness, SCLD, SMUG, and “the CAOs”. If you read them aloud as acronyms, instead, they become “scold”, “smug”, and “chaos”. Man, we are just not doing ourselves any favors! We complain, as a profession, about library-specific vocabulary, and the acronym soup that plagues us, but I’m realizing that it’s not just libraries — it’s academia. I think it’s time to come up […] keep reading…

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