Maine Library Association

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  • 14 Apr 2015 1:03 PM | Deleted user

    Welcome aboard folks. I know many of you have professional experience in the field, but I must warn you to be prepared at all times during the tour and remember to follow some basic ground rules. They might seem obvious to some, or silly to others, but they have been put in place for very good reason. First, photos are fine, but be aware that the lighting inside is tricky, unpredictable and can change at any time, so don't be surprised if the image you get looks completely unlike what you thought you saw. Rule number two. Please remain with the tour at all times. Last December on the Holiday Tour, we had a young couple who lagged behind so they could have a little private time in one of the rooms. He's still being treated at an inpatient facility because he's convinced that he's the reincarnation of Melville Dewey and she can't speak anything but Mongolian without breaking out in a horrible body rash. Third, please refrain from touching any of the items on display. While most are believed to be benign, there are a few that are capable of changing your personality and outlook completely. That's why we had you sign your tour waiver in the presence of a notary.


    Ready to go? Please follow me. There will be time for bathroom breaks and questions at the end. One last comment before we enter, what you see inside may look like complete chaos, but remember that it has functioned in ways that have and continue to amaze many in the profession.


    I wait as everyone enters the soft flexible door, waiting to see if anyone comments on its structure, but they're either squinting as they hit the darkened interior or texting God knows who. I wish we could ban those damn things, but once we get inside, it won't matter. The electrical impulses will jam the heck out of any signal.


    We call this room the Den of Cluelessness AKA Where I learned to pay it forward. Note the series of early emails between the owner and his peers in the medical library world. As you can see, he came into the profession out of a combination of desperation and bravado. Desperate because his current role as an adult educator in an insane asylum was crumbling and brave because he had the ego and the delusion to claim that he could modernize the library at said asylum. Funny thing, though. He delivered big time, in part because he discovered the Zen of Librarianship. Know what you don't know and then learn it. Note how many responses he got from other librarians as far away as Great Britain, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Amazing how many wanted to play nice. Now, if you look at the wall on the opposite side of the room, you'll see a map of Maine that's covered with yellow pins, more than 150 in fact. Each one represents a library that he's personally visited and in many of them, he offered suggestions and examples of how he figured out various things or better ways to do something. That was the biggest lesson he took away from the era of cluelessness. If you want to keep it, you have to give it away.


    I notice several of the tour members making copious notes while a few others are trying to figure out how many libraries they've visited during their career.


    We move down the hall with its dark purple velvet wall hangings that depict scenes from books he's read and loved. I never get tired of the amazingly lifelike series from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It makes me realize why that series had stuck with him for over thirty years.


    I wait until everyone is in the next room which we call the 'You ain't making Progress Until You Piss Someone Off' room. There are about twenty dioramas scattered about on display stands. I like the one with the racy graphic novels tucked into the oversize shelf, but the one that makes the most sense is the one where Christian fiction is housed as far away from Paranormal Romance as possible. One you're not likely to see in many places is the one where the miniature figure's hair stands on end while a teenager cowers in front of the checkout desk. Behind them is a whiteboard that says “Just accept the fact that when you're the entire staff and have a bad day, people are gonna see it, That's what apologies are for.” The other one I like is the same figure bending over an overflowing toilet with the caption, “Taking the plunge took on a whole new meaning when I started working here.” Finally one I doubt many librarians would admit to having a shared experience with, is one where an obese couple are bent over to look at the DVD section and neither one has their derriere adequately covered. This one is captioned thusly “In my next life, I'm mandating taller pants, longer shirts and unisex suspenders.


    We exit and walk around the south end where a railing allows everyone to look down at what initially appears to be a termite colony. I admit that it took me three tours before I understood what the boss told me on day one. It's the hall of unfinished projects and ideas. Each of the insect like entities is actually a task, idea or project that he never got to or realized he's never have time to complete, so he tossed them all in a big arena. I'm told that when no one is around, they choose sides and play an old game created by Mad Magazine called 43 Man Squamish.


    There are three more rooms currently open to those tour members. The next one has a sign over the door that says “In honor of Dr. Chuckie who taught us that the roof is gonna leak when you least expect it.” Inside are little videos much like you'd see on Youtube or America's Funniest Home Videos. They all feature snippets from his memory of situations that library school could never prepare you for. My favorite is from his days at the Boothbay Harbor Library when he was called by a frantic patron and her husband who had just been fired as managers of a nearby lodging facility and wanted him to come take some books. As the video progresses, you see the couple imploring him to take more and more stuff because they're desperate and can't pack everything. By the time he drives off, his pickup looks like he's headed to join the Beverly Hillbillies and includes three sets of silverware, two dried flower wreaths, pancake mix and maple syrup. In another, he's told by a patron that wild turkey poop killed her husband. It fast forwards to him doing an interview with her for the local newspaper and darned if she wasn't telling the truth. Another favorite is the one featuring a phone call from a woman wanting to reserve the downstairs room for bible study. After he agrees, she asks for directions, and wants to know the nearest intersection coordinates. As the conversation progresses, he realizes that this lady ain't in Hartland Maine, but Hartland Michigan. The offer stands, but he cautions her that her gas bill might be a bit too much. Because there are so many things in this room, we always allow extra time for the tour members to get their fill. It's guaranteed to have half of them laughing and the other half shaking their heads as we move on.


    The next room is the one we call 'why a library is like a really fancy restaurant.' When you enter, it's full of holographic images. Most are tables with fine linen cloths and a scattering of books. As you enter, the librarian dressed as a Maitre D, welcomes each tour member and as if being able to read their mind, escorts them to a table, where, Viola! They find a bunch of books that are perfect for them. This is an active reminder room that reinforces two things. A good librarian doesn't have to read everything, but if he/she wants to be really good, they must pay attention to who read what and really liked it and what authors have excited other readers who like these books. This makes pleasing patrons a heck of a lot easier.


    The last room has a sign over the door that has a bus with a teen about to be run over inside a big red circle with a diagonal line through it. Inside are endless titles of juvenile and young adult novels scrolling across each wall, followed by reviews he's posted online. Every so often there are random quotes in bold between the reviews. Among them we see the following. “Why do librarians spend so much time trying to get little kids to use libraries, only to avoid them and their needs when they catch the dread disease called puberty?” Then there's “Every day at least one teen will come into your library desperate to be listened to with respect. Will you notice which one it is?” The one I like best is “Almost every teen does the impossible. They grow up, and even more amazing they just might cast the vote that saves the library budget five years from now.”


    I notice the tour members are much quieter as we exit the building. In fact almost all of them forget to grab their smartphones as we come out into sunlight again. Maybe they saw something on the tour that was more important than texting. I hope so.


    We hope you have enjoyed this tour of a librarian's brain. If someone were to tour yours, what would they find?


    Written by John Clark, Hartland Public Library
  • 15 Nov 2014 2:20 PM | Nissa Flanagan

    Just in time for the Joint Conference and Annual Business Meeting!


    Maine Library Association 2013-2014 Annual Report.pdf

  • 15 Oct 2014 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    After creating, merging, or fixing close to 50,000 bibliographic records and processing some 15,000 interlibrary loans, I'm ready to hand the Hartland Public Library over to someone else. My wife retired in May and is taking care of our first granddaughter, a job less stressful and far more fun than her having to ride herd on a couple hundred nursing students. My body and my brain keep telling me I should follow suit, so I've set next June 1st as my final day as a full time librarian.


    If you look around at any gathering of Maine librarians these days, you're likely to see more gray than any other hair color. Tonight, I had dinner with several other Tri-County librarians at Pat's Pizza in Dexter. Two retired this year and at least one more is thinking about it. I doubt these statistics would be much different in similar informal gatherings of Maine librarians these days. Let's face it, fear of economic inadequacy has kept/keeps many of us working beyond a personal comfort point, but we're getting a tad long in the tooth.


    I'm writing this because I've spent a lot of time thinking about some of the emotional and intangible aspects of retirement and want to share what I've concluded. Maybe none of it will be useful or of interest to you. I hope for some, the opposite is true. I very clearly remember a syndrome that was common when I worked in inpatient mental health. Plenty of people were like my good friend Jon M. who looked at me one day when we were duck hunting and said: “When I'm not working, there are times when I have no idea who I am.” He was dead serious. So many of us who worked in mental health put so much of ourselves into the job that it became as much who we were as anything else in our lives. As I've worked to make the Hartland Public Library the best possible library I could, I've realized that some of that has carried over. While what I've created is pretty darn good, I know that on June 1, 2015, it's no longer my baby and part of my job between now and that day is to ensure that I'm as okay as possible with that. To get there and remain sane, there are a number of things I've decided I need to do. I'm sharing them with you in hopes that one or more of them might be helpful when you make this important decision. I list them in no particular order.


    1-Patrons, particularly in a small library have a comfort level with the librarian, the collection and the environment. It's important to reassure them that whoever takes over will be caring and competent and will have gotten some tips on who likes what. They also need to know that nobody is irreplaceable and that someone else's style of operation may be just as satisfying after the initial adjustment period is over. This attention to patrons needs to happen with all ages. Teens, tweens and little kids have just as much investment in the library as adults.


    2-Sharing your prejudices with your successor isn't going to help anything. Face it, we all have patrons who irritate the hell out of us, often for reasons we can't put our finger on (I had three of them in the library at the same time this afternoon). Sharing those with whoever takes over might derail a productive connection for everyone concerned.


    3-Take time to write as thorough a handbook as possible. Remember how you felt when you first took over. Things like who empties the trash, mows the lawn, handles the plumbing, what E-rate is all about and who to call. Create a list of important phone numbers including other libraries. If you have special relationships with particular libraries (like we have with Newport and Pittsfield), explain them in sufficient detail. If you have go-to people for certain things like cataloging, add them to the handbook. Include volunteers you use regularly and if they have a particular skill, note it. Explain things like how ILL and the van delivery work. Your successor may already know all this stuff, but taking the time to create a handbook will make you feel good about what you've done and may spark an idea for something you completely forgot.


    4-Leave them a list of who loves what author so they can surprise a few patrons early in the game.


    5-Leave them another list of people you think would make great library board members or trustees. Remember, you didn't work all those years just to have some idiot get on the board and screw everything up.


    6-Decide what level of availability you're comfortable with. In one person libraries like Hartland, finding capable substitutes isn't always easy. Are you willing to fill in when your successor gets sick or has a vacation and nobody is available to cover? Likewise, are you willing to volunteer in some capacity, assuming your successor is okay with that?


    7-Brainstorm a list of things you never finished or quite got to. You'll feel better and hopefully your successor will appreciate having a direction to go in once their feet are wet.


    8-Decide what stuff you really need to bring home and what you're comfortable leaving behind.


    9-Realize that no matter how much time and effort you put into these things, like everything else in life, you're going to realize it's incomplete at least half a dozen times, so cut yourself some slack. Being human isn't a crime AND you're getting older, so brain slumps go with the territory.



    Now for the emotional stuff. This is the tricky part of this process. I come home on days when I have a volunteer helper to let the family dog out. Lately these warm October afternoons make it extremely difficult to go back to work. That book I couldn't quite finish reading last night and the chair on the back deck really look more inviting than returning to the library and calling people about overdues. Developing an emotional detachment from the job and doing so gracefully isn't particularly easy. If you catch yourself being grumpier more often and for longer periods of time, consider the source. Likewise for that less than enthusiastic getting out of bed to greet another day of work. If you're like me, some mornings, those covers look pretty darn sexy, especially compared with the knowledge that you'll have to deal with 25 interlibrary loan requests as soon as you fire up the computer.


    Another area that has the potential to become a slippery slope is the mental shrug. Sure the day when everything will become someone else's problem is approaching, but until that day, it's important to keep things in balance. On the other side of this coin, don't throw away vacation time just because retirement is approaching. I have 85 hours left this year and I'm using every dang one of them.


    Perhaps the trickiest issue, for me, at least, is achieving a feeling of okayness about not being part of the library. Until I actually retire, I won't know whether I'll get up in the morning and be looking forward to a clean slate for the day or fighting a feeling that I'm no longer relevant. I'll get back to you on that one.


    Finally, what, if anything will you carry from your library job into retirement. While I plan to read my brains out and amp up my writing career, there are still parts of being a librarian I really like, enough so I want, or think I want to keep doing them after June first. I've got four things on that list. I'm considering hiring out as a freelance weeder for librarians/libraries where killing their babies is too painful. Second, I've really developed a liking for cataloging, particularly original cataloging, so I might offer my services one day a week for libraries where lack of staff creates a serious backlog of stuff that needs to go on the shelves. Third, I've heard from a number of people that having someone willing to hire out as a temporary library professional to cover unexpected vacancies or illnesses for short periods of time would be very well received by the library community. Finally, I'm willing and interested in continuing to handle the sales of items on Amazon for the Hartland Public Library. I'm good at it and that would free up whoever replaces me to focus on some of those things I never quite got around to doing.


    I hope you found this interesting and maybe a bit helpful. I'd very much like to hear your thoughts about this article and retirement. 


    John Clark, Hartland Public Library

  • 04 Sep 2014 4:07 PM | Kara Reiman

    The MLA Communications Committee is hereby accepting nominations for the 2014 Outstanding Librarian and the Journalism awards.  Download the nomination forms at: http://mainelibraries.org/page-1686488.  Deadline for nominations is October 15th.  The awards will be presented at the MLA/MASL Joint Conference in Bangor on November 16th-17th.

  • 01 Jul 2014 8:00 AM | Jenna Blake Davis

    YSS has opened the online form so that interested libraries can order their copy of next year's Summer Reading Program Manaual 

  • 10 Jun 2014 5:36 PM | Kara Reiman
    The scholarship committee is in need of 2 new members.  If you're interested in getting involved, please contact MLA president Nissa Flanagan at (nissa.lohrmann@gmail.com)
  • 14 Apr 2014 4:30 PM | Deleted user

    A Series of Book Reviews from Maine Librarians.


    From Nancy Noble, Archivist/Cataloger, Maine Historical Society:


    I just read Simon Armitage’s Walking home : a poet’s journey. Published in 2013, this book details his walk along the Pennine Way in England, which is much like America’s Appalachian Trail. Armitage exchanges room and board at various venues for reading his poems, to a variety of audiences, including appreciative, at times. Not only did I learn about this trail, but I enjoyed Armitage’s wit and honesty about himself.

    This book brought to mind another wonderful book, by Baron Wormser, The Road washes out in spring: a poet’s memoir of living off the grid. Baron Wormser was the Poet Laureate of Maine in 2000, and at the time of his book, lived in Madison, Maine, where he was a librarian for the local school district. Anyone who lives rural in Maine (and experiences mud season) will appreciate and enjoy this book.


    From Katie Connor, Brewer Public Library:


    Longbourn, by Jo Baker, is a fascinating twist on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. For all those who loved Austen's social criticism, this provides an eye-opening peek into the belowstairs world. Focusing on the housemaid, Sarah, the footman, James, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, this book leads the reader through all Longbourn's secrets, from rooms you never saw before, to secrets no one wanted you to know. Though initially it may seem like a slow read, Jo Baker knows how to hit the reader where it counts, leaving you spinning and eager to read more.


    From Jennifer Stone, Old Town High School Library Media Specialist:

    The Truth About Alice

    by Jennifer Mathieu
    Publisher: Roaring Book Press

    Genre: YA
    Expected Publication Date: June 3, 2014
    Author Website: http://www.jennifermathieu.com/

    Book Summary from Goodreads: Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

    My Thoughts: I received an advance copy of Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel from NetGalley and it kept me turning the pages. It’s a powerful story about the impact of rumors, what friendship means and discovering friendships in the most unlikely people. The story is told in alternating chapters between Elaine, Kelsie, Kurt and Josh with the last chapter by Alice.

    Kelsie: “The hard truth is I think I knew we weren’t going to be friends anymore the day after Elaine’s party when I read the text about her and Brandon and Tommy Cray. It sounds terrible and shallow and not at all like something the Kelsie Sanders I knew in Flint would have said, but I’ve spent too many years sitting alone in the cafeteria, and I just can’t handle doing it again. And I won’t.”

    Young adults will definitely identify and connect with the characters and as someone who is around teenagers all the time I  found the writing style to be very similar to how teenagers think and speak. There are some important lessons in this book and this would be a great book for discussion, whether in a class or book club. I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this for my library, I’ve already had one student upset that they couldn’t get the book NOW!

  • 14 Apr 2014 4:00 PM | Deleted user

    This article comes from Jeanne Madden, Head of User Services, Falmouth Memorial Library. It was originally published in The Shopping Notes.


    Talk with any of your friends and you will find that you probably have different tastes in the types of books you prefer to read.  Many people stick to one fiction genre while others bounce around.  While it is simple to ask WHAT types of fiction readers enjoy, I started to think about WHY readers choose the genres they do.


    There have actually been some studies done on this topic of preferences and they found that personality has a lot to do with it.  That seems obvious.  For example, my personality is very different from others and your personality is different from mine, so we probably gravitate toward different types of movies, television and books.  But think about your fiction choices in terms of your Myers-Briggs assessment (we have probably all had this done at some point), or by looking at “The Big Five.”   In psychology, the Five-Factor Inventory model is the widely accepted theory that establishes five factors to describe human personality: openness to experiences (OPE), conscientiousness (CON), extraversion (EXT), agreeableness (AGR) and neuroticism (NEU).


    Studies were conducted using the Big Five factors to determine preferences for various entertainment domains called Domain-specific Personality-based User Stereotypes.   Looking at just the book domain it is interesting to see that people with a high degree of OPE tend to like poetry and science fiction, whereas those with a low degree of OPE prefer drama, scary and crime books.


    Of course, being the librarian that I am, I had to go online and find where I could take a free “Big Five Personality Test” to find out my score.  Turns out my highest score is in EXT which, according to the study, reflects how much an individual is oriented towards things outside themselves and derive satisfaction from interacting with other people.  It also indicates that females with a high EXT score are drawn to “scary” books.  This makes sense to me since I am the librarian who focuses on paranormal fiction with vampires, werewolves, evil fairies and more.


    For fun I asked my fellow library staff members to share with me not only what they read but why.  I got some great answers and want to share a couple with you.


    “I love reading fiction not so much as an escape but to experience life through another lens; a different era, worldview, gender, culture, etc.  I also love sci-fi and fantasy because again, it’s a way to experience the human condition in another context, but it’s grappling with essentially what it means to be human.  And I really like Steampunk because… well, it’s got widgets and I really want aviator goggles to be everyday fashion.”  Megan S.


    “I’m drawn to and gravitate toward the memoir genre.  I’ve thought long and hard as to why I’m so fascinated by other’s semi-autobiographical view of their lives…is it because 1) my life is boring and predictable, a bit too normal, or 2) I’m grateful that my life IS so stable, vibrant, full of fun times, good friends, loving family, a wonderful career…which lends itself to reading about those who aren’t as fortunate?  The jury is still out.  Bottom line…I love memoirs.”  Nina M.


    So, what does your reading selection say about you?  In the end people’s reading choices are their own concern and the reasons why these choices are made is up to them.  The most important thing is that people read – whether for pleasure or education, to escape into another world or to learn more about their own – we must keep reading.  Go ahead and ask one of your friends why they choose the genres they do – or ask a library staff member the next time you are in.  You may be surprised to hear the reasons for the choices they make and may even get to know them a little better.


    Looking for your next read?  Maybe we will have to add personality assessments to our Reader’s Advisory Services… well, maybe not.  The library’s website has a number of tools to help you determine your next read.  Visit www.falmouthmemoriallibrary.org and select the “Find a good book” link under the Reader’s Corner tab.  This will lead you to a number of tools to help you find your next book.  

  • 14 Apr 2014 3:05 PM | Deleted user
    The following is from Carla McAllister about her library memories. It was originally used for the 125th anniversary of the New Gloucester Public Library.  Do you have library memories you'd like to share as a blog post? Email us at mlatozeditor@gmail.com

    Locked in the Library

    by Carla McAllister

    December 2013


                When I was young and growing up in a small New Hampshire town, I visited our library on a regular basis.  Back in the day, when borrowing an item, one wrote one’s name on the card tucked into the pocket in the back of each book.  Proponents of rights to privacy might blanch when reminded of this practice. It was amusing to me that, as I got older, I would often see that my mother and I chose the same titles, her familiar signature apparent on the sign out card. 

    My mother was an avid reader and became a published author, newspaper writer, and photographer. She read to my brother and me nearly every evening.  This instilled in us both a lifelong love of reading. I can, today, read under nearly any circumstance.  I can read in a bowling alley and often did so when I was a member of a bowling league; I can read with music or television blaring around me; I can read in a boat, in a plane, on a treadmill, and while walking on a sidewalk, which I did through my school years as it was about a mile to school.  I can read for hours in a vehicle, preferably with a supply of chocolate near to hand.  I would often rather read than interact with people. 

    My mother owned and loved two different black VW beetles. As I was always small for my age, I fit quite nicely for many years in the luggage space right under the back window.  This is where I would sit with my books as we rode around doing errands.  I had no seat belt, heaven forbid, and I am sure this practice would be discouraged and surely against the law today.

                I was never more content than when I rode my bicycle to the library and returned with my baskets overflowing with books.  Looking back at pictures from my childhood, often I have a book in my hands and piles of books surrounding me. I can easily recall what was taking place and what my feelings were at any given time by looking at the covers of what I was reading.  My mother would scold me when visiting relatives, as I would often curl up somewhere to read rather than join in the conversation.  I know parents now who would like to have such a problem; parents whose children would rather do anything other than read.

                My new husband has become reconciled to the fact that I will, most likely, forgo going into any store, be it a grocery store or Home Depot, so that I might read, and he will automatically park in such a way that I can alternate between my reading and people watching. In the dark, this requires that he find a space with a streetlight shining in my side of the vehicle.  He is well-trained at this point. Additionally, more likely than not, he will return with some form of chocolate for me.

                I always carry books with me; one I am reading and two others in case I finish my current choice.  Two, in case one of the back-ups is not to my immediate liking.  It is absolutely astonishing how much reading one can accomplish while waiting, waiting for the dentist or doctor to call you in, waiting for a prescription to be filled, waiting for commercials to end, waiting for your husband to pump the gas, or waiting for him to check out that tractor or some such item for sale on the roadside. In my case, I often have tons of time to read when he is in a hardware store or lumber supply outlet.

                I have often said that I would need no anesthesia while undergoing dental work or perhaps even a colonoscopy, as long as I had an interesting book to read.  When visiting homes where no reading material is apparent, I am appalled and cannot imagine living under such conditions.  Bathroom visits require reading material.  When none is on hand, I have been known to read Lysol bottles, disinfectant spray bottles, toilet bowl cleaner bottles and directions on prescription bottles.  What one finds in bathrooms not one’s own, can be revealing, humorous and sometimes distressing.

                Like my parents, I am extremely frugal, some might say tight, and reading is such an inexpensive pastime that it fits my needs perfectly.  One can obtain nearly any title either through the local library or through Interlibrary Loan, a fabulous resource of which many remain unaware. Sure, there are the new-fangled e-readers and the like, but to read a book all one needs is a book and a light source; no fully-charged battery, available wi-fi or pricy and often maddening device.  Plus, I would rather lose a book somewhere than lose an expensive e-reader.   

    When I was laid off after over eleven years of working at an Auburn Payroll company, I decided I would pursue a job I could really love, so I took classes in librarianship. After obtaining a degree, I was on the look-out for a job in a small public library.  They are few and far between.  When the New Gloucester Public Library opening was advertised, I thought that I would never be lucky enough to be chosen.  Ultimately I was offered the position and I felt as if I had won the lottery.   

    When I was young, I dreamed of inadvertently getting locked in the library overnight.  I even thought of ways I might make it happen.  Well, here I am now at the New Gloucester Public Library and I could not be happier.  During my hour long lunch each day, I choose to be locked in the library…I enjoy that hour immensely.

      I have two addictions to which I will admit; chocolate and reading. I have a cache of chocolate items squirreled away, I am working with books, I have avenues to knowledge at my disposal, my working atmosphere is positive and people I see each day are (nearly always) pleasant, and my colleague is every bit as much of a bibliophile and chocoholic as I, and I admit to hanging in the library after closing to read and live the fantasy.

    My library memories are myriad and, as you can see, I could not make this short and sweet.  I will say, my childhood dream of being ‘locked in the library’ has come true and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

                 

  • 14 Apr 2014 11:28 AM | Deleted user

     

                It's been a while since I went to a major conference. Limited help and budgets will do that to you. When I heard that this year's Evergreen International Conference was going to be in Cambridge, MA, I decided to heck with it, I'm going. I attended the first one in GA 5 years ago when the Maine Balsam Libraries Consortium was in its infancy. After what I saw and heard in Cambridge, I can tell you that both the software and the community using it have come a long way.

                We started on version 1.209 if I remember correctly. The newest stable release is 2.5 and developers are already talking about what to add to 2.7. When we formed Balsam, the major clusters of Evergreen users were in South Carolina, British Columbia and Indiana. Today, pretty much all of GA, SC, IN, BC and MA are in, Mobius in MO, a group in TX, and other clusters in WA, OR, MI, CT, NH, OH and AK are expanding. On the international front, Evergreen is being adopted in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada, India, The Republic of Georgia and Tasmania.

                Many of you know that I worked with Karl Beiser to support Innovative’s Millennium software. In that role, I attended several Innovative Users' Group Meetings. There were a bunch of people every year who dazzled me with their creativity and innovation at those meetings. I saw many of those same people at the Evergreen conference and they're applying their 'Star Wars' cool to open source now. That really excites me. My biggest problem with Millennium was the way enhancements and new features were selected. It was done by ballot and the academic libraries always seemed to trump what public libraries wanted for new features.

                With Evergreen, the situation is completely different. Let's say there's a new component or feature you'd kill to have in the software, but it would cost $20,000 to develop it. The way the Evergreen community is structured, any number of libraries or consortia can pool funds and hire someone like Equinox Library Services to develop the code. Once it's working and blessed by the Evergreen oversight committee, it's rolled into the next release. Your consortium might only be able to pony up $1,000, but every little bit helps. There's also a website where bugs can be reported and tracked by a cadre of librarians three times smarter about this stuff than I'll ever be.

                If you're interested in the development side, or simply want to lurk, these sharp pencils meet regularly on IRC and welcome new blood. The Evergreen community also has several listservs that are open to anyone interested in learning about Evergreen. Those, and most links related to Evergreen, can be found at http://evergreen-ils.org/ and the Evergreen wiki is here http://wiki.evergreen-ils.org/doku.php

                So, you wonder, what happened at the conference? There were sessions on the git tutorial,  documentation and developer hackfests, “Hello Reports: Stumbling toward the data you need,” “It's Funny Afterward: Technical tales of tragedy...and recovery,” “Evergreen Welcome Panel,”(I was on this), “The Import/Export Business: Working with Vandelay in Evergreen,” “Consider the KPAC: Implement and customize the children's catalog,” “License to ILL: How Equinox turned Evergreen 2.o into FulfILLment@, an open source resources sharing platform,” “Being the Cat Herder: Managing an open source software release,” “Batches, Buckets & Bookbags,” “Tiny Budget, Abundant Results: Creating an online catalog at Georgia's Governor's Mansion with Evergreen,” “Authority Control in Evergreen: The straight dope,” “Three Dozen Is a CrowdundefinedDeduplication,” A Practical Serials Walkthrough,” Structured Library Data: Holdings, libraries and beyond,” “Exploring a Browser-Based Staff Client,” and “SQL for Librarians.”

                Pretty much every session's slides, handouts, documentation and links will be collected over the next couple of weeks and made available as links from one site. As with most conferences, one of the best aspects was the sharing and networking. One of my interests, stemming back to my days at the Maine State Library, is getting additional Z39.50 resources for catalogers. I'm in the process of swapping ours with two of the consortia who were there and may explore additional ones with single libraries that have extremely unique collections. I returned home, energized and enthusiastic, but a bit overwhelmed at all the information that was sent my way.

                Now to why this piece is titled as it is. We received a grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation last year to help libraries interested in joining the Maine Balsam Libraries Consortium with migration costs. If what you have read here whets your interest, I, or project manager Chris Maas, will be happy to talk with you and do our best to answer any questions you might have. My email is berek@tds.net and the phone number at the Hartland Public Library is 938-4702.

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