Quick Housekeeping Note

January 13, 2009

I haven’t blogged for a few months.  Why not?  Red OfficeMy library has been going through growing pains and reorganizations for the last year or more.  Despite several successes, some of the social web tools I’ve advocated these last several years have been very slow to get management’s approval (or priority) amid all the other changes.  Regrettably, that has forced my focus on other things.

I’ve been keeping up with my nonfiction book blog, though, and hope to post here regularly again once we resume using social tools in creative ways.  If that takes too long, I’ll broaden LibraryStream’s focus.  It’s a big world out there … and the library must be in it.

150 Years Ago Today

February 3, 2008

It’s Super Bowl Sunday so no one outside of Glendale, Arizona scheduled any events today. But there’s a quiet anniversary I’m happy to celebrate before and after the game. One hundred fifty years ago today, the Territorial Legislature granted a charter to a small group of community-minded folks in Steilacoom, WA. That document started the first public library in what became the state of Washington.

It’s a respectable milestone. Institutions back east might look upon Feb. 3, 1858, as downright recent, but it was still early pioneer days in the Pacific Northwest. The village of Seattle was less than ten years old and Washington statehood was still thirty years off. The library tradition up here started in the bustling Puget Sound town of Steilacoom.

The original library is long gone, but I have two connections to its successors. I work for the county library that serves Steilacoom today. I also remember a single-room library on the west side of the Town Hall when I was a kid. It was where I dabbled in research for the first time. I was nine years old, in the oldest town in the state, and curious to know the stories behind the events on the sign pictured above. I remember being trusted with a big folder of clippings and taking notes in my “detective notepad” with a little golf pencil. The librarian didn’t even flinch when I asked her if she had known Judge Thomas Chambers — an early settler who surely died more than 60 years before she was born! (The best librarians are wonderfully understanding when it comes to bad questions.)

Happy 150th birthday, Steilacoom Library. You started a library tradition in the state … and in me.

P.S. I could elaborate on local history (it has always interested me) but I’ll share just one feature about that first library that seems quite remarkable now. The 1858 charter called for the establishment of three things: a library of books, a reading room, and public interaction. They wanted a participatory library even then! It was written into the charter: “Procuring public lectures, essays and establishing debates.” Way to go, pioneers!

Fun with barcodes

January 23, 2008

We in the library biz use barcodes to track our collections all the time. We still make mistakes sometimes, but we wouldn’t be efficient without them. So I’m sympathetic to the folks at the postal services in two different countries who accidentally delivered our package to Dalmeny, Saskatchewan after it was sent from North Carolina. It was supposed to go to Puyallup, WA – 1,100 miles away from Dalmeny – but someone slapped the wrong barcode on the label. In this case it took a human eye to catch the human error, while the automation in between dutifully routed it across the border.

Hiding the laptop

December 21, 2007

I’m putting away my blogging laptop for a couple of weeks while I try on a different hat. Thank you for your many visits and comments this year; your responses have made this project worthwhile.

I wish all my friends out there in Library Land a wonderful holiday season with those you love. Merry Christmas. May we meet again in the new year.

A Shelf Portrait

December 16, 2007

These are some of the books that I enjoyed this year: a little humor, history, fiction, and science — with a little biking, birding, wilderness, and library stuff thrown in. I’m a voracious reader so I had to leave a lot out. What books remained aren’t necessarily the “best”, but they became part of me.

What would be in your shelf portrait this year?

Best wishes, Susan

November 13, 2007

Today I say goodbye to my work partner of two years. Susan takes the helm of one of our library branches tomorrow and begins a new adventure. She graciously agreed to come back as co-instructor for our Social Web Literacy class from time to time, but her focus is rightly supervising her new staff and facility now.

When I hired Susan as the Assistant Trainer, she showed that rare mix of thoroughly understanding computers and a genuine ability to connect with people. Now, after twenty five months, I’m convinced that’s an understatement. I don’t think there’s much she couldn’t handle. She’s that good. And I’ll miss her.

To Susan — and her new adventure down the road…

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.

(From one of her favorite books, Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.)