Category Archives: Pearl-Clutching

Doodling: as fun as library research?

Today I ran across a crafting phenomenon called Zentangles.  It is a form of meditative doodling, using simple patterns and repetition to create attractive small pieces, usually monochrome.  It’s the sort of thing you do idly on the phone, but with a purpose and as a calming/focusing technique. Sounds nice, right?  Turns out there is a big contingent of “you’re doing it wrong!!!” people involved in this.  There are formal official names for the little patterns, a certification process for instructors, copyright FUD and everything.   Here’s a video of a nice lady who is showing people how not to be AFRAID of freaking DOODLING, and there are people all over the comments telling her she’s doing it wrong, I’m certified, you don’t know what you’re doing, etc etc.  This is one example – there are tons more.   How to take the fun out of something that we’ve all enjoyed since childhood.

And then it occurred to me… that’s what we sometimes do in the library.  We tell people they’re doing it wrong in a finger-wagging way.  I’m certified, you don’t know what you’re doing.   Of course, there IS such a thing as doing it wrong.  And there IS value in having boundaries and techniques that describe a particular named practice  whether that’s art or searching or Pilates. Otherwise everything is everything and nothing is anything.  But wow, do I cringe at the thought our users are hearing me the way I’m hearing the Zentangle police.


Mobile grumbling

I’m reading the twitter stream from the #qlmobile workshop on mobile services in libraries happening at Queens.

“You can’t leap the chasm taking baby steps. Baby steps will kill you” -Dave Genesy, library consultant, quoted by several folks.

Predictably, several tweets following this complain about librarians afraid of change and afraid of technology.  With the predictable undercurrent of ageism.  I really don’t think the “fear” of technology that people perceive is really fear.  Evidence-based librarianship advocates for decisionmaking on data. And that’s at odds with leaping on something because it’s shiny.  Especially when it’s going to be expensive to ramp up development expertise on multiple fast-moving platforms.  Especially-especially at a time when we can’t hire anyone!  There’s ample evidence that our users use mobile devices in their daily lives, but where is the evidence that our users would use mobile services from the library beyond the simplest things?  The only way we’re really going to get the evidence that would justify a leap is by trying things incrementally.

Here’s another quote from the same workshop:

“Mobile literacy is a core competency for information professionals” (

This is another tweet from the qlmobile stream – don’t know if these are the tweeter Andrea Snyder’s words or if she’s quoting someone else. I do actually agree with that (before you accuse me of being “afraid of change”).  So then, in an environment that wants data before investing, how is the information professional supposed to get this literacy?  By buying your own mobile tech of course.  A lot of librarians already bought smartphones for their own personal lives, but I know several folks (myself included) who have gone out and bought devices or software specifically because they felt they needed to get up to speed professionally.  My employer is not going to buy an iPhone for me, and if they did I would have to pay tax on it even though I wouldn’t own it. (Thanks, IRS.)  Think back along the timeline of library innovation.  Did you have to go buy your own personal web server to get up to speed on that back in 1994?  Your own personal OPAC?     So think about it – why is the cost of your professional competence in this particular arena yours alone to pay for out of your personal pocket?  

Thanks, Wired. Big help.

Thanks, Wired, for this helpful article for returning students on how to get around campus efforts to stop torrents and file sharing. What’s next, how to make your own roofies?