Monday, December 30, 2019

Wrapping up 2019: It's all in the details

The year 2019 is coming to a close. Every year seems busy and often too busy. While I think of things I want to blog about, frequently I find I don't have time to do the posts.  I hope that might change at some point in 2020.  For now, here is a rambling look back at 2019 with some new thought thrown in.


Knowledge Imaging CenterI have not spent much time this year thinking about digitization outside of the ALA Annual Conference (post). However, I have colleagues who report occasionally about their continued digitization efforts and I am pleased at the progress they are making. With moves towards augmented reality (AR), it is likely that our digitized material is and will be integrated into some of them. What is augmented reality? According to Wikipedia:
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory. AR can be defined as a system that fulfills three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects.
Actually, a quick search shows that there are already historical sites using augmented reality, such as James Monroe's Highland in Virginia. Are they including digitized materials? That I cannot tell, but I hope they are.

The other area, related to digitization, worth noting is the need to provide more digital materials to support online education.  That includes ideas like controlled digital lending, which was also a topic at ALA (post).  This is an area where our needs are moving quickly. We need to have the correct laws, licensing, guidelines, etc., to support this trend.


Four factors of fair it use coasters. CopyrightRather than looking back, I want to look forward. January 1, 2020 will mark the second New Year's Day in a row where copyrighted works will enter the public domain due to their age.  In celebration, Lifehacker has published These 1924 Copyrighted Works Enter the Public Domain in 2020.

More information on Public Domain Day can be found in Wikipedia.

Onondaga County Public Library

Over two year ago, I joined the Board of Trustees for the Onondaga County Public Library (OCPL) System. Quoting our website:
OCPL is one of 23 public library systems chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York. It operates the Central Library, nine Syracuse city branches and two satellite libraries, and 21 independent libraries in suburban Onondaga County.
These libraries serve a county population of 461,809. Within the City of Syracuse (population 142,749), the library users include 30.5% of the population, who lived below the poverty line in 2018.  One of the services OCPL has expanded this year, with funding released by our County Executive, is technology backpacks which can be borrowed for people to use at home (or elsewhere).  Each tech backpack includes:
  • Chromebook and charger
  • Verizon hotspot and charger
  • Quick start guide for using the equipment
These have been deployed across the county based on concentrations of poverty.
Among the other good news at OCPL is that we have a new executive director coming in January 2020.  Christian Zabriskie is well-known in some circles for his work in Queens and Yonkers (NY), as well as co-founding Urban Librarians Unite (ULU). In 2012, Christian was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Recently, he and Lauren Comito, his ULU co-founder, were named Library Journal's Librarian(s) of the Year 2020.

My personal OCPL good news is that I am becoming Board president in January.  This will put all of my library knowledge, and ability to get work done through others, to the test and I'm looking forward to it!

Poverty and Libraries

Our public libraries are for everyone, including people with all different abilities and backgrounds.  They are most important to those in marginalized communities, whatever "marginalized" may mean in that context. The question every public library should be asking is what it can do to be of service in those communities. Once asked, then the library needs to talk with members of that community to figure out the answers. The library should not jump to conclusions, because that could mean that the library is doing what it deems to be correct, rather than what the community needs.

Many groups are focused on serving the poor in our communities and there are some specifically focused on raising up the voices of the poor. The Poor People's Campaign, started by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is one of those groups that is working across the U.S.  If you are a public librarian, what groups are working with those in your community who are living in poverty? Who is advocating for the poor?  What civic engagement activities can you and your library do to make a positive change in your community, in regards to poverty?

There are other issues in our communities: the opioid crisis, racism, homelessness (and home insecurity), the perpetually unemployed, etc.  These issues may have been glossed over by your news media, but they tore at your community in 2019. What can your library do to help?

Gig Work

One of the things that is happening around us is the increased amount of "gig work" that is occurring. Gig work can be defined as, "...income-earning activities outside of traditional, long-term employer-employee relationships."  Gig work impacts how we use technology and information.  It is impacts how space is used in our communities, including our libraries which offer space for people to work and meet, as well as access to technology.

This year, I heard Dr. Steve Sawyer give a talk about his research in progress related to gig work.  What stood out to me was the infrastructure - hidden to me - that has been created to support knowledge workers, who do not have a corporate office.  For a growing number of people, there is no office waiting for them in a corporate office building. Rather they are given the "flexibility" to work from home or at another location which suits them.  Sawyer noted that corporations used to provide offices, technology, and support, but now workers must acquire those things themselves (to varying degrees). Yes, a business may provide some tech support, for example, but because the person is not located where the support is, the person may need to do most of the tech support themselves.

There are a growing number of coworking spaces in our communities. You might not know about them, because you're not looking for them. If you've heard about one, you likely thought it was an aberration, but it's not and we're beyond the trend phase of this. If you know nothing about this, this article from ChargeSpot will be helpful.

If you are working in a library, how is your library supporting gig workers? Think about knowledge workers and those in other parts of the gig economy, like Uber and Lyft drivers. If there are coworking spaces in your community, are you interacting with them? Do they see the library as a resource?

Steve Sawyer is interested in specific aspects of the gig economy, which is not what I took away from his talk! (Sorry, Steve.) A paper of Steve's, with three collaborators, is available on ResearchGate.  That paper is, "Platformic Management, Boundary Resources for Gig Work, and Worker Autonomy." I know that he has other writings on this topic, which you can find through various databases.

T is for Training

I'm mentioning this, because I rarely do on this blog. In 2008, Maurice Coleman started a twice monthly podcast called T is for Training. The podcast is focused primarily on training (in and outside of libraries) and technology, although we focus on other issues.  I've been involved in T is for Training since its start.  It has changed over the years, because nothing can stay exactly the same. Who is involved has changed as well as, in 2019, when we record. We've also become closer colleagues and friends. There is nothing like a twice-monthly hour-long conversation to help create a close community!

T is for Training episodes are available on a variety of different podcast platforms. The website includes information on when we record as well as show notes. There aren't transcripts of the episodes, which means this podcast is not fully accessible. The show notes do capture the topics discussed and often a long list of resources mentioned.

The Best Tool of the Year

Started up my Bullet Journal at work today - loving the Bullet Journal book @rydercarroll sent for me to test out. @leuchtturm1917 books are pretty great!I've written before about the bullet journal method of staying organized and focused. This method grew into the most important tool for me this year.  With the number of committees I've been on, etc., my bullet journal has become by trusty companion. Yes, better than the previous work journals that I have kept. In a increasingly digital work, I think it is telling that the best tool for me remains paper.

And so this is my year in review!  I hope 2019 has had some bright spots for you.  May 2020 bring you the opportunities you have been working towards!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Top 10 Copyright Stories of 2019

It is the end of the year and people are publishing wrap-up stories of 2019.  Here are two focused on copyright:

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Library Pros interview with Lee Rainie

The Library Pros podcast interviewed Lee Rainie at the Long Island Library Resource Council conference.  Their description of the 40-minute episode is:
Part 2 features Lee Rainie, the Director of Internet and Technology at Pew Research. If you live in Libraryland, then you know how important Pew’s statistical analysis is to the future of libraries. Lee Rainie, a proud Long Island native, took some time to talk about what libraries are doing well and what the future holds for libraries based on the historical statistical analysis. Speaking with Lee was a pleasure and we thank LILRC for making him available to us!
I have been fortunate to hear Lee Rainie speak many times and I always learn something new. What is new in this interview, for me, are his thoughts about the future focus of libraries.  That begins around minute 16 in the podcast.

Thanks to Chris and Bob - the Library Pros - for their continued podcasting efforts!

Monday, December 02, 2019

January - March 2020: Jill's Presentation and Travel Schedule

Coffee cup It is amazing to think that the year 2020 is nearly here!  I remember when people were panicking over the change from 1999 to 2000.  Well, as 2020 approaches, this is my travel and presentation schedule for the start of the year.


Right now, I only have one conference on my schedule for the first part of 2020.
  • Jan. 24-27 - I will be at the ALA Midwinter Conference (ALAmw20) in Philadelphia, PA.  The last time I remember ALAmw being in Philly, the city received 11 inches of snow in one day!  That made getting to Midwinter (and the ALISE conference before it) rather difficult.  Let's hope that the weather is more cooperative this time.

    Besides attending sessions and visiting the Exhibit Hall, I would be happy to talk with people about the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative and the research we are engaged in.  Please do let me know if you want to meetup and perhaps do lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.


  • Copyright for Information Professionals (IST 735) - Jan. 13 - Apr. 28 (asynchronous online, credit-bearing graduate course)
    Basic ideas, concepts and perspectives of management as they apply to the information professions. Students learn to understand and apply basic principles of organization theory and behavior and managerial techniques needed to improve organizational effectiveness. This course is offered through Syracuse University.

  • US Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide (ALA eCourse) - Feb. 2 - Mar. 15 (asynchronous, non-credit-bearing)
    The library is a hub of content, all of it subject to copyright law. The legal reality of copyright is dynamic—changes in technology have created a landscape that is constantly adapting and can be difficult to predict. If you don't have any formal training in copyright law, it can be intimidating to know how to answer your patrons' copyright questions and to know what you can and cannot do with your library’s content and resources. It can be tough to understand the line between providing information and answering a legal question.

    In this eCourse, you will be guided through the basics of copyright law and provided with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert.

    Each week, you'll learn how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as this area evolves. You'll be able to check and affirm your knowledge through focused self-assessments.  This asynchronous eCourse is offered through ALA Publishing.

  • The Public Library as Institution (IST 600) - Mar. 25 - June 16 (online with synchronous and asynchronous components each week)
    This credit-bearing course covers the unique aspects of public libraries include structure, governance, funding, and community interactions. In addition, public libraries are impacted by many societal concerns. This course prepares students to examine and support those areas of public librarianship. This course is offered through Syracuse University.

Later in 2020

There is definitely more to come later in the year.  If you are interested in discussing a workshop for your organization, contact me.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Dec. 4 webinar featuring Digitization of the New-York Historical Society Subway Construction Photograph Collection

This appeared in my email the day before Thanksgiving. Even though you may be on holiday, I want you to see this when you return!  This Dec. 4 webinar panel includes Henry Raine, from the New-York Historical Society, and two people from Backstage Library WorksRegister is open for this webinar, which will run from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET.

The photographic collection documenting 50 years of subway construction in New York City is a trove of 20th century visual history. As one of the most frequently requested collections at the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library, these photos were a prime candidate for digitization and metadata enhancement.

Backstage Library Works presents:
Digitization of the New-York Historical Society
Subway Construction Photograph Collection

In this webinar, Henry Raine from the New-York Historical Society joins Annemarie Hartzell and Casey Cheney from Backstage to walk you through the collaborative process of creating digital images and adding geodata to facilitate improved search and access within the collection.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Becoming a copyright coach: an interview with editors Kevin L. Smith and Erin L. Ellis

ALA has a interview with the authors of Coaching Copyright, Kevin L. Smith and Erin L. Ellis. Smith and Ellis released this new book in September. The book's goal is to empower:
users to take a practical approach to specific situations. Complete with in-depth case studies, this collection provides valuable information rooted in pragmatic techniques, including:
  • in-depth discussion of the five questions that will help you clarify any copyright situation;
  • storytelling techniques to enliven copyright presentations, plus ways to use music or YouTube to hook students into copyright topics;
  • three coaching scenarios that tie into ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and bring real-world applications to your library instruction;
  • how-to guidance on leading mock negotiations over real journal publishing agreements;
  • a 90-minute lesson plan on author rights for writers in a student journal;
  • tips for teaching instructional designers how to apply copyright and fair use principles to course management systems; and
  • an LIS copyright course assessment model.

The interview provides some advice, with clearly much more in the book.  Yes, read the interview and consider purchasing the book.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

#NYLA2019 : ADHD, Neurodiversity, and the Benefits of -- WAITLOOK!

Speakers: Lauren Comito, Brooklyn Public Library and Halley Eacker, University at Albany

Description: Are you a library worker with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)? As a manager of neurodiverse employees, are you looking for strategies to support your employees' professional success? Join our own-voice presenters as they discuss techniques adapted from positive-behavior-interventions-and-supports (PBIS) and how these employees can be powerhouse workers in their libraries with the proper environmental support. Topics of discussion include: expert guidance on ADHD in the workplace, methods for staying on task with ADHD, using ADHD as an asset in a profession that's constantly changing, how ADHD can affect public service interactions with adults and children, and what strategies and environmental supports should be considered by organizations to promote success.

Notes:  Comito and Eacker acknowledged at the start that they are able to talk about this issue openly, without fear of repercussion, because of the privilege they enjoy. They also acknowledge that students of color are treated differently when it comes to neurodiversity.  They may not receive the same support, etc., as white students.  Comito and Eacker were open about their neurodiversity, as were others in audience. The safe space of this session allowed for very useful information to be shared.
  • What is neurodiversity? How our brains are structured and function are diverse.
  • No one needs to disclose that they are neurodiverse.
  • Let go of how the work is done, and focus rather that the work is done.  Give people different pathways to the same outcomes or products.
  • How people work towards deadlines may be quite different.  Nudge but don’t nag.
  • Do you need to modify your space to create a better environment for those with neurodiversity? Think about the lighting, sound, layout, etc.
  • Documented condition/diagnosis - If you need accommodation for the job interview. You can ask for an accommodation.
  • Ask your employees: How do you work best? What type of environment do you need?
  • How can you differentiate jobs tasks for each employee, rather than thinking in terms of accommodating a specific person?
  • Think about individual productivity tools.
  • Talking openly about your needs can help others think about theirs.
  • If you believe someone needs help, point the person towards available resources.
  • Can you create psychological safety in your work group?
  • The law has created a stigma rather than creating a ways for all of us to be productive.
  • Point out people’s strengths, rather than focusing  on their weaknesses.  Use their strengths.
  • Hiring is time consuming.  You want new employees to succeed.


Quick Thoughts 

At one point, Lauren Comito used the phrase "Temporal locality." This phrase was new to me, but it captures something many of us do, especially anyone with a messy desk.  With temporal locality, you place items where they can be accessed quickly.What seems messy for one person is efficient for someone else.

That above is a good example of understand how someone works and then giving that person the latitude to work in a way that is efficient for them.  Comito also noted that how someone works may mean that they naturally wait until the last minute to get something done.  That panic of being close to the deadline helps the person get the work completed.

This is a session that could have gone on much longer, with people contributing different resources, etc.  I hope NYLA does a session like this again!

#NYLA2019 : Programming for All Abilities

Speakers: Amy Smith, Red Hook Public Library, and Jason Thomas, Newburgh Free Library

Description: Libraries have a mission to serve everyone but, when it comes to programming, children, teens, and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities are often overlooked. Many libraries would like to begin programs, but don’t know where to start. At the same time, families and caregivers are looking for opportunities for their loved ones, clients, and students, to socialize, learn and have fun in a public setting.   Based on both the Red Hook Public Library and Newburgh Free Library’s “All Abilities” programs, this presentation shows how to add programs for all age groups with cognitive disabilities without breaking the budget.  Whether it’s adding a monthly social hour, or developing regular adaptive story time, there are options for libraries of any size.


Why do this?
  • Develop relationships with community organizations 
  • Support the needs of patrons 
  • Develop relationships between you patrons and staff
  • These programs will make you happy
  • Staff may be hesitant - they may have incorrect perceptions. You can model acceptance. 
  • You may not know where to begin. You do  not need to be an expert.  These programs are not a substitute for schooling.  They are focused on trying new things and meeting new people. Yes, you will make mistakes and that’s okay. 
  • You don’t want to ask absolutely it specific diagnosis and breach privacy. However, you may receive funds for programs for specific diagnosis.
  • Diagnostic language may not be clear and may sound out of touch.
  • Language can also be overly vague.
  • People will not come to a program if the language is unclear and they don’t know if it will be appropriate.
  • Don’t use words that could be condescending.
  • “All abilities” is an improv crazy risk. Include other specific language to help person.
  • Person first language vs identity first language. 
  • Disability culture
Who will come?
  • People who already come to your library. Those all abilities programs are for them, even if they attend other programs. 
  • People from specific organizations. 
  • Start small
  • Make the marketing clear.  Consistency can help.
Who will come?  Adults:
  • Where in the library do you do these?
  • To register or not?
  • Will you take photos?
  • What time of day?
  • Openly advertise programs
  • Do scheduled programs for specific individual groups
  • Program in a box
  • Off hour activities by request
Who will come?  Teens:
  • All abilities volunteer programs
  • Treat the program with respect and give rewards
  • Do the work with them.  That is a way to show respect.
Who will come?  Kids:
  • All abilities story time - people think this will be easy, but it isn't. Don’t start with this. 
  • Music and movement
  • Big family events.  Red Hook opens an hour early at some events for those with all abilities.  Registration required.  Add the information to the event email that already exists. 
  • When you do activities with those at the all abilities events, you are not othering them.

Quick Thoughts

Smith and Thomas are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this topic, with great examples. What stood out to me is that developing activities and events for all abilities requires changing your perspective, but that once you have done it, it will become natural.  One thing to consider is to talk with those who are already doing these events. They can provide helpful tips, examples, and encouragement.

#NYLA2019 : Hopepunk Sustainability: Libraries in the Lead

Speakers: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Mid-Hudson Library System, and David Biello, TED

Description: In a world of overwhelming pessimism regarding climate change and sustainable practices, libraries have all the tools necessary to lead our communities forward on these issues. Recent reports from the United Nations and the US Government indicate that our economy is not shifting fast enough to mitigate the dire consequences we are already seeing due to climate change like severe weather, food insecurity and civil unrest. How can we stay focused and maximize our assets in the community to solve these issues? What global trends should libraries consider when designing their localized plans? Library leaders need to be empowered to serve as catalysts and conveners that help local communities help themselves.

Notes: Libraries are ground zero for hope. Hope lives in taxpayers that believe libraries are integral to our future. Libraries are beacons of hope. Libraries provide a realistic optimism based in hope.

Libraries are working on being sustainable as institutions, as well as help the world be sustainable.   For this to occur, libraries need to create sustainable practices.

How does your library building work? Are you using the building in a sustainable way? What is the system in which your building is embedded? Can you affect that system so it is more sustainable?

Voting is the greenest thing you can do and it affects the policies that help us be sustainable.

The catalyst for Sustainability happens at the top and at the bottom of organizations. In China, the change is occurring through children, a bottom up approach. Can we impact the curriculum in our schools to teach sustainable living?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is training preparedness ambassadors and they want to work with libraries.

ALA has added sustainability as a core value of librarianship.  That means that new MSLIS students will be thinking about it as part of their learning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

#NYLA2019 : Introduction to Civil Service (Civil Service 101)

Speakers: Claudia Depkin, Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library, and Geoff Kirkpatrick, Bethlehem Public Library

Description: Join us as we engage with members of the Civil Service Task Force on navigating the finer points of the civil service system. Have questions about the hiring process? Do you want to know what to do after you've received your score? Stop in to find out. There will be an opportunity for discussion at the end of the presentation -- bring your questions!

Notes: Civil service is used to hire public library staff in many New York State libraries and in some other government-connected libraries across the state.  While civil service is not used in every U.S. state, where it is used, it is important to understand what it is, why it exists, and how to navigate the system.

NYLA maintains "A Librarians Guide to Civil Service" on its website, which people should refer to.

Why does civil service exist? It was created in the 1800s to breakup appointing who you know to positions. It is meant to help hire the best people for the job. It was also designed to protect people once they are in their positions.

What's the point?
  • Protect incumbents  from political pressure
  • Test for merit and fitness in an objective way
  • Encourage promotion from within the organization
  • Provide career ladders for employees
In NYS, all libraries uses civil services except for association libraries.  Information is available on the State Library website.

A few thoughts about vocabulary:
  • Vocabulary is important.
  • The words used, when describing civil service are nonstandard. You need to understand their language (civil service) and how they are using it.
  • It is a world into itself.
Home Rule - There are rules about civil service in NYS law, but there are local rules, connected with a specific civil service authority.  Those rules vary from location to location, and are important.

Local Control:
  • This makes the discussion of particulars challenging.
  • Commissioners and other civil service employees wield enormous power over specific practices.
  • Misunderstanding of NYS Civil Service law at the local level can be devastating.
  • Those things not specifically mentioned in state law are left to the local municipality to decide.
Some example:
  • Number of years of experience for minimum qualifications
  • Whether to use promotional exams
  • How often to offer exams
  • Part time staff having competitive or non-competitive status
Depkin and Kirkpatrick stressed that it is important to develop and maintain a relationship with your local civil service agency.

Classification of positions:
  • Two broad classes: classified, unclassified
  • Unclassified - elected officials, head of government agencies, teachers 
Four categories of classified service:
  • Competitive class - competitive exams, provides due process
  • Non-competitive class - some part-time positions are placed in the non-competitive class, see section 75 
  • Exempt class - library attorney, library treasurer, library executive/CEO (CC law 41)
  • Labor class - manual labor, part-time or full-time, See section 75
Depkin and Kirkpatrick frequently mentioned section 75  of Civil Service law, which emphasized the importance of understanding what is in the law itself.

  • Types of exams: open competitive, promotional 
  • May have residency requirements
  • Continuous recruitment versus non-continuous recruitment - when you can signup for the exam
Methods of examinations:
  • Typically multiple choice
  • Used  for most titles
  • May be on paper or computer
  • Training and experience exams
    • Used for librarian titles
    • Structured resume
    • Scored by a computer 
    • Questions about experiences, formal education, continuing education, professional development
  • Combination Exams
    • Frequently used for computer (IT) titles
  • Applicant must meet minimum standards.
  • Passing score and reachable on the civil service list for that position-type.
  • Applicant must respond to the canvas letter, which is sent by the hiring library.  This letter allows people on the civil service list to signal if they are interested in this specific position. It allows the hiring library to know who they should be considering for an interview.
  • The library then selects people to interview from available candidates
  • Once the final selection has been made, the staff member must be official appointed.
  • The new staff member must complete the probationary period.
Types of appointments:
  • Contingent permanent
  • Permanent
  • Provisional - no section 75 protections
  • Temporary - some specific rules based on length of the appointment
  • Non-competitive appointment
  • .....Others
Rule of one of three (rule of three)
  • Ensures that the appointing authority is never forced to choose from fewer than three eligible candidates.
  • Frequently misinterpreted.
  • Appointing authority may choose to appoint any of the three highest scoring candidates including ties, who are willing to accept the appointment.  This is why canvasing process is critical.
  • Within the rule of three, any legal method may be used.

Quick Thoughts

First, I wish that more people had been at this session, especially MSLIS students.  This is an important topic, especially in NYS, so having the chance to hear from people who are well-versed in it is useful.  Yes, there is "A Librarians Guide to Civil Service", but that is not a person is sitting in front of you, answering questions as Depkin and Kirkpatrick did.

Second, a number of people need to understand civil service including library staff, those seeking employment, and public library boards of trustees. While each group may not need to understand civil service at the same depth, each - if connected with or interested in a library whose hiring is government by civil service - needs to know enough so as to not make a mistake.  In NYS, there are a number of people who are well-versed in the law and who would be willing to talk about it.

Third, some states in the U.S. do not use civil service. Hiring in those states is done by people applying for open positions, then the library selecting the candidates they want to interview, etc. While this may make hiring easier, it offers fewer protections to the employees.

Fourth, civil service protects against nepotism and the hiring of friends. While we might rail against civil service, I think we should be supportive of a system that trying to make hiring more open and fair.

Finally, because civil service encourages promotion from within the organization, we need to provide the professional development and career opportunities to our staff, so they will meet the qualifications for the next level up the ladder.  Failing to do this is a problem and it harms the library and its staff.

#NYLA2019 : Random conference thoughts

Photo from Twitter of the tattoo artist at NYLA
Random thoughts:
  • The New York Library Association (NYLA) now has over 7000 members (a new record)!  NYLA has done a nice job in recent years in expanding membership, which gets more people active in the association and more people active in advocacy.
  • NYLA continues to put the fun in the conference!  Each year is advertised as the "Best Conference Ever" and it is amazing how that comes true.  
  • Besides a wide range of conference sessions, continuing education events, and companies/organizations in the trade show area (exhibit hall), this year there was a tattoo artist on-site!  Yes, people lined up for library, book and gaming themed tattoos from Gold Tiger Tattoo.
  • And if tattoos weren't enough excitement, there was sword fighting (with all of the protective gear) in the trade show area.
  • Photo by Jill Hurst-Wahl of theNYLA business meeting and breakfast
  • If you want to get a quorum at your association's business meeting, do what NYLA has done for years - serve breakfast! This year, it was standing room only!
  • While the content is always good, the networking that occurs is important.  Never discount the power of being at a conference and making connections. These are the connections that could get your ahead in your career.
  • The content, the location, and the people make this one of the largest state-level library conferences in the U.S., or so I've heard.  I mean...a 1000+ people! Wow!
  • The is indeed a great conference and I hope that others - even from outside NYS - will come to it. You will not be disappointed!
Warming up for sword fighting where library staff weild more than just information

#NYLA2019 : Philosophical Publics: Ruling Ourselves, Thinking Together

Astra Taylor at NYLA Annual Conference
In introducing Astra Taylor, Meg Backus said, we call libraries the last bastion of democracy, but what does that mean?

During her keynote, Taylor talked about democracy, read passages from her book, and showed us a clip from her documentary.  What follows are the thoughts and ideas I picked up from her talk.

Who rules in a democracy?  The people rule, but what is “the people”? How do we describe this abstraction? Democracy focuses us to ask “how are we going to live together”?  Can we all engage philosophically with that question ?

Socrates warned that democracy would devolve into tyranny with a demagogue. Aristotle said that democracy is rule of the poor. Democracy assumes economic equality.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) has an impact on the U.S. democracy. As Taylor read passages about the Great Law of Peace, it was easy to hear how our U.S. democracy was founded upon it.  (You can read the Great Law of Peace on and   Yet we have moved away from it in ways that have harmed our democracy.

In a democracy, the people hold the power.  She noted that democracy is aspirational and a messy practice.  In a democracy, there should be mass opinion rather that expertise.  In other words, democracy should be based on a few people who have the "right" knowledge.  That is counter to the idea that the people hold the power.  Distrusting experts leads to looking for a strong leader.  A strong leader means that power is concentrated, rather than being held by the people.

Meritocracy is where experts rule. This idea was born over 50 years ago.  It was meant to be a joke, but has become true.  We live in a society where the experts know best. Who are the experts on democracy? People have always fought for their right to learn.  What would  like education look like in an inclusive, democratic system?

She noted that elections are aristocratic, while selection is democratic. 

Astra Taylor encourages people to recognize and use the power that they have. Organize with people who are in the same circumstance as you.

Quick Thoughts

This is a topic we - especially in the U.S. - need to be thinking about. It is not an easy topic to tackle, because democracy is an ideal that can be implemented in many ways.  What is important about it is that the people - not the philosopher king or the top expert or the richest people - rule.  Astra Taylor's work can indeed help us delve into this and I'm glad that she spoke at NYLA.

If this topic interests you, consider starting with the RN Future Tense podcast below (a transcript is available) as an introduction.  I also found Ezra Klein's interview to be informative and easy to listen to as I walk.

Astra Taylor's relevant works

Related podcasts 


Monday, November 18, 2019

#NYLA2019 : Q&A with the New State Librarian

NY State Librarian Lauren Moore
Lauren Moore became the State Librarian on August 1. As previous State Librarians have done, Lauren Moore came to NYLA and took questions from participants.

Moore cares about equity, digital inclusion, and policy.  She said that policy isn't exciting but it is how work gets done.

In talking about her vision (our vision), Moore said that she doesn't have all the answers after three months.  However, it is clear she has learned much about the library environment in NYS from her previous position and her short time in the New York Education Department, which the library is a part.  Moore wants to work with others to create a shared vision for libraries of all types across NYS.

In doing her work as State Librarian, Moore promised that she will be present, respectful, listen, continuously learn, and share power.

Questions State Librarian Moore was asked

Greatest challenge? Resources.  There is a complex source of funds and how those funds are used.  She needs to understand how the structure works and how to take advantage of opportunities.  How can she help the systems be flexible and agile.

How to increase the diversity of staff through civil service? Talk to civil services and make them your partner and ally. Work towards the long term.

Macmillan ebook embargo? The State Library cannot lobby or issue an opinion.  It can provide information and help gather information.  She suggested that libraries reer to existing information like the ebook study on the NYSED website.

Can the State Library use more social media? Yes.

Can she be the face of libraries in NYS? Yes, that is an aspiration.  However, she acknowledges that she is part of a large complex communications environment.

Question about schools without school librarians.  School libraries do not report to the State Library, but elsewhere in the NYS Education Department.  As she spoke about school libraries, Moore noted that the places to advocate may not be what you immediately consider.  Look around at who can provide input to a situation and advocate to them.

In answering another question about school libraries, she talked about endorsing work the work of school libraries and giving it more status.

Proposed trustee educational regulation? Proposed that each trustee receive two-hours of training each year.  When Commissioner Elia left, several top executives left at the same time.  That has delayed this regulation moving forward.  Can this regulation move forward in a different way?  She mentioned the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, as well as pursuing legislation, as ways of moving this forward.  She noted that adding a checkbox on the annual report each public library submits, regarding the training which individual trustees receive, could prompt more trustees to be trained annually. 

School library standards? The group that would create them has said "no." Is there another way to get that done?

2020 census? Not a lot of time left to prepare.  There is work happening across the state, outside of the State Library.  There is work for everyone to do, especially libraries. Do our staff know how to explain how we protect patron privacy on the internet?

What support does she want from us? Trust that she has our best interests at heart.  Continue to talk with her.  Help her understand what is happening.

She received a comment about civil service.  She recognizes that it has is pros and cons.  She noted that it is a human process and that we need to get to know the humans in the process.

Her range of travel? Yes she is getting out across the state.

Can she create more awareness of libraries in the eyes of the governor?  We need to build trust and makes services more visible to him.

Questions about prison libraries.  Prison libraries fall under the Department of Corrections.  She notes that county jails are locally run.  There are challenges and our libraries are working with prisons and jails in many ways.

#NYLA2019 : Take It or Leave It: What You Need to Know about Employee Leaves and Absences

Speakers: Ellen Bach and Robert Schofield from Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP

Description: Everything you need to know about the Family and Medical Leave Act, NY’s Paid Family Leave Act, and the other leave-related legal obligations affecting your library and its employees. Ensure that your policies, procedures, and practices are in compliance, before you face an issue.

Notes: My notes do not do this session justice and so I'm an not sharing them, because they could be misleading. Bach and Schofield provided many details and referred to the applicable laws and regulations. Clearly, they know this area well. What stood out to me are the number of leaves that are available to employees, with some being specific to New York State. The term "leave" was used broadly, with some leaves being measured in hours and others being measured in weeks. The leaves mentioned were:
  • Vacation, sick leave, paid holidays and bereavement leave - generally governed by employer policies
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL) - NYS specific
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • NYS Human Rights Law (HRL)
  • Military Leave
  • Military Spouse Leave
  • Jury Duty
  • Voting
  • Blood Donation Leave
  • Bone marrow Leave
  • Cancer screening Leave
  • Breastfeeding Break Time 
  • Domestic Violence Protection
  • Crime Victims Leave

They noted that there are anti-retaliation provisions in these laws.

Clearly libraries and other employers need to understand these leaves and have appropriate policies. If an employer does not have resources in-house for this, they should consult a human resource professional (consultant) and legal counsel.

Addendum (11/19/2019): Bach and Schofield sent participants, who requested it, their slides.  In the slides are two things worth noting. First:
Employees are entitled to certain types of leave under federal, state and local law. Additional leaves may exist by policy or contract.
Employee Leaves can be a hyper technical area of HR management; even the most experienced managers should seek expert assistance when dealing with complex employee leave matters.

#NYLA2019 : How to say "no" and how to listen effectively

Session Title: Academic Librarians of Color Understanding the Game

Speakers: Simone Yearwood, CUNY, Queens College and Sandra Michele Echols, Consultant

Descriptions: Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships carefully and empathetically. Emotional Intelligence can be a difficult concept for librarians of color, especially in academia when they are typically the "minority" representative in the department. Learning how to say "no" and safeguarding their status can become a conflict while attempting to obtain tenure. Emotional intelligence can affect your performance at work, your physical and mental health, your relationships and social intelligence. Utilizing Emotional Intelligence skills can enhance your ability to listen, reflect and respond to constructive criticism; make better decisions (time-management), manage relationships and build networks; and stay calm when under pressure (all skills needed to successfully obtain tenure).

Notes: Two areas that interested me in this session where how to say "no" and how to listen effectively, because these are areas in which we all need advice.

How to say “NO” effectively

  1. Be assertive but courteous.
  2. Don’t beat around the bush.
  3. Set boundaries.
  4. Put the question back on the person who is asking.
  5. Don’t be pressured.
  6. Send a reply via email, which documents your decision.  The email "no" will be harder for someone to challenge.
  7. Be selfish.

Effective listening skills

  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Focus on the person and the conversation.  This also means not thinking about your reply, while you are listening.
  • Do not agree just to make the person feel better.
  • Resist the urge to provide  a solution.  In other words, don't jump to a solution. Rather take time to listen to the person and understand what the person needs.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Copyright and book theft

Typewriter typing the word steal This opinion piece in the New York Times caught my attention in September. In "Steal This Book? There’s a Price",  R
Since 2009, when eBooks and book piracy became a phenomenon, income for authors has declined 42 percent, according to a 2018 Authors Guild income survey, with the median income from writing now so low — just $6,080 a year — that poverty level looks like the mountaintop. By contrast, a 2017 Nielsen survey found that people who admitted to having read a pirated book in the previous six months tend to be middle class, educated, female as well as male, between the ages of 30 and 44 — and with an income of $60,000 to 90,000 a year.
First, I still contend that we aren't teaching children/students/people about ownership of their work at a young enough age, so that they understand what ownership means.  I think, then, children/students/people could learn better about what it means to respect the works of other creators who own their own works. It would also mean reinforcing ownership in other areas, such as recognizing that even taking one piece of candy from a store is wrong.  For this to really work, everyone would need to operate at a higher ethical standard.

Second, there needs to be a easy way of reporting to an author or publisher when an item do not appear to be a legal copy online.  I think what this really means is that authors need to put their contact information on their works, including their books.  That could simply be a specific email address for the purpose of contacting the author about the work, including reporting copyright violations.  (In other words, not the author's personal email account.)  

You may read my two points above and think they will never come to be, which is what I think too.  I'd be interested in hearing what solutions you might have, so leave a comment.  And yes, do read "Steal This Book? There’s a Price".  I think you'll find it interesting.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Random thoughts and examples: Creating accessible content

Not all disabilities are visible
As we all have, I am more aware of creating accessible content and also noticing when material I use is (or is not) accessible.  Accessibility assures that material is usable by all people.

While in Washington, DC, for the ALA Annual Conference, I went to the Starbucks near Gallaudet University.   Gallaudet describes itself as "the premier institution of learning, teaching and research for deaf and hard-of-hearing students."  Businesses near Gallaudet are more aware of the need to be accessible for all.  In the business district on H Street is the first signing Starbucks in the U.S.  "Signing" means that the preferred language in that Starbucks is American Sign Language (ASL).  The facility was built to be accessible for all, rather than being retrofitted.  It is a beautiful and peaceful (quiet) location, where all of the worker use ASL.  In this facility, accessible content is being created constantly as members of the deaf and hearing communities interact.

Question: When your create a new facility or remodel an existing facility, how committed are you to creating space that is truly accessible for all?

Fish from these waters may be harmful to ear
Accessibility is also something we need to consider, when we create signage. How many languages are spoken in your community? How many languages are your signs in?  While we acknowledge that many languages are spoken in our communities, we often only have signage in 1-2 languages.  (Can you guess which ones?)

I'm impressed with this sign in a park along Onondaga Lake, which is in English, Spanish, Burmese and Nepali.  Why? Because some people see the lake as a food source, but eating fish from this lake is not recommended. This sign to right is in four of the languages that are spoken in Syracuse.  I wish there was a visual representation of the message, which would be accessible to more people.

Question: Is your library's signage in language that your community members use?  Have you created frequently asked questions in multiple languages?  Is there a way for your website to be automatically translated into other languages?

Starbucks business card in English and Braille

Going back to Starbucks for a moment, here is the manager's business card in both English and Braille.  (Don't worry, there is no personal contact information on this card.)

Question: If you are interacting regularly with people who need your contact information in other languages or in a different format, have you create a business card for those situations?

Finally, I want to point out that Sabrina Unrein has written a white paper entitled “What Makes a Good Library Website?”   Sabrina is an MSLIS student at Syracuse University and is working working me as part of the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative.  Included in her white paper is information about web security and creating accessible content. 

Question: Have you reviewed your website and all of its content to assure that everyone can use it?  Is it accessible on mobile devices as well as screen readers?

Addendum (04/01/2021): If you are thinking about making your website more accessible, be sure to read this Overlay Fact Sheet.

Monday, October 07, 2019

#ALISE19 : Copyright and LIS in a Global Context: Current Knowledge and Future Trends


Laura Saunders, Allison Estell, Deborah Charbonneau and Dick Kawooya

Abbreviated session description

Copyright impacts nearly every aspect of an information professional’s job, across all settings. The centrality of copyright to the information professions suggests that LIS professionals need a strong grounding in this topic, and indeed the American Library Association considers knowledge of copyright to be a core competency...Together [four panelists] will share the results of five separate studies to provide a broad overview of the need for copyright knowledge in the field, and discuss the current preparedness of LIS professionals and students. The first panelist will report the results of a study on self-perceived copyright awareness and training needs of academic librarians highlighting copyright, fair use, and intellectual property. The second panelist will discuss the results of a content analysis of job postings for librarians, to examine trends in expectations for copyright knowledge. Finally, two panelists will discuss a series of surveys that put copyright knowledge and literacy in a global context. The first survey gathered current practitioners’ self-reported knowledge of copyright issues in the United States. Data from this study was pooled with data from the same survey distributed across 13 countries for a cross-country analysis. The second survey tested American LIS students’ copyright knowledge and gathered their feedback on actual copyright instruction within their LIS programs. The survey of LIS students has been replicated in 14 countries and while data is still being analyzed, the researchers will share preliminary comparative data. After sharing the results of each of these above-mentioned studies, the panelists will discuss implications for LIS education.


Copyright  librarians - areas/requirements?Because of my focus on copyright, this was a fascinating and important session. I know that many MSLIS courses touch on some portion of copyright and licensing, but that there are few regularly given courses on copyright in MSLIS programs. Given all of the electives a student could take, being able to take a course in copyright is a luxury that not every student can take advantage of.

For me, these things stood out in the session:
  1. Members of our profession believe that copyright is an important topic for them to understand.  People have taken advantage of a number of different ways in order to learn about copyright. Among those, who responded to a survey on this topic, most believed that they felt prepared in terms of copyright.  However, the survey asked for their opinion and did not assess their actual knowledge.
  2. People (including students) turn to library staff when they have copyright questions.  In other words, people count on librarians understanding copyright and being able to answer questions appropriately.
  3. More job ads are asking for copyright (or licensing) related knowledge.  This seems to have exploded since 2013.  It was noted that although copyright knowledge is desired, there is no widespread hiring of people with law (JD) degrees. Rather they expect librarians to have this knowledge.
  4. Members of our profession believe that copyright should be in the LIS curriculum.  Because every MSLIS student needs copyright knowledge, the speakers felt that copyright should be woven into (and across) existing courses. 
  5. Members of our profession also felt that there needs to continuous learning in this area.  Once you learn about copyright, you need to refresh that knowledge, especially given that the courts do set new precedents regularly.
In term of weaving copyright into exist MSLIS courses, this would mean including such topics as:
  • What is intellectual property?
  • What is covered by copyright (Title 17, Sections 102-105) 
  • The rights of the copyright owner (Sections 106-106A)
  • Fair Use (Section 107)
  • Reproduction by libraries and archives (Section 108) 
  • First sale doctrine (within Section 109)
  • TEACH Act (within Section 110)
I've included the specific sections of the law above for two reasons. First, I think it demonstrates that this needs to be more than just a mention of a specific area, but rather what do we mean by "X".  Second, I do think that students should become familiar with the law itself, in addition to using other resources, including articles and textbook.
These topics could be connected to courses such as:
  • Introduction to the profession
  • Reference 
  • Information literacy
  • Library instruction
  • Collection development
  • Information policy 
  • Materials for... (or classes such as Youth services)
However, the program would need to map which topics are being covered (and where), in order to ensure that students are receiving the copyright knowledge they will need as a practitioner.  Of course, it may be impossible for every course to contain a copyright assignment, but courses could have appropriate lectures and readings.  If classes are taken in a specific order, perhaps a later classes (e.g., Information policy) could contain an assessment which would require students to use all of the copyright knowledge that they have gained.

There were other topics at ALISE, where the answer was "this needs to be infused in the curriculum."  Doing all of those changes would be a huge coordinated effort, a task that would not be for the weary.  An alternative would be to take some topics or subtopics and create a way for students to engage in self-education.  A student should know that they cannot learn everything in their MSLIS program; to do so would require much more than 36-42 credits. Therefore, students should be motivated to learn outside of the structure of the curriculum.  In regards to copyright, a program could develop a list of external resources (books, articles, webinars, ecourses, etc.), which the student could engage with in order to learn the topic.  While the program would not assess the student's learning, the student should be ready and willing to discuss what they have learned during an employment interview. Some students may find other ways of demonstrating their knowledge (e.g., articles, blog posts, etc.), which could be seen by prospective employers. Of course, some learning options might have their own built-in assessments.

I left this session very happy, because of my love of teaching copyright.  I hope that others have taken what they heard back to their programs and are thinking of what they might do with this knowledge.  I know that I am!


These are articles I found online and were not mentioned during the session.
  • Allison Estell, Laura Saunders (2016) Librarian Copyright Literacy: Self-Reported Copyright Knowledge Among Information Professionals in the United States, Public Services Quarterly, 12:3, 214-227, DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2016.1184997 
  • Deborah H. Charbonneau, Michael Priehs (2014) Copyright Awareness, Partnerships, and Training Issues in Academic Libraries, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, v. 40, n. 3-4,  228-233, DOI:
  • LeEtta Schmidt, Michael English (2015) Copyright Instruction in LIS Programs: Report of a Survey of Standards in the U.S.A., The Journal of Academic Librarianship, v. 41, n. 6, 736-743, DOI:

Addendum (Nov. 11): As an FYI, ALISE has reported this information about the conference:
A total of 282 people, including 76 first time attendees, traveled from eight countries - USA, Canada, China, Germany, Jamaica, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom - to participate. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

#ALISE19 : Understanding information seeking behaviors within a community

The word KNOX made from large pieces of woodLast week was the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Annual Conference in Knoxville, TN. This year's theme was "Exploring Learning in a Global Information Context." Part of the global context is diversity and a number of sessions connected with that specifically. A thread that crossed several presentations and posters was the information seeking behaviors within a community, however, that community is defined.

Information and Under-represented Communities

In the juried paper, "Information and Under-represented communities: LatinXs Finding InformaXion in Boston" by Monica Colon-Aguirre and Janet Caja Alcal, we learned of the information seeking behaviors of those who speak Spanish in the LatinX community. A 2015 Pew Research study found that LatinXs are less likely than other groups to know about the services offered by their public libraries. LatinX communities are the largest minority group in the U.S. and have complex information needs. Colon-Aguirre noted that LatinX populations are not monolithic, which means that we need to be careful about any assumptions we might make about their information needs.

Through 13 interviews, Colon-Aguirre and Alcal found that educational attainment and English language acquisition impact the use of library collections and facilities, and whether that use is for the person or for their child. For example, someone with a higher levels of education would use the library for themself, while a person with lower levels of education would seek services for their children.

Colon-Aguirre recommends that LIS educators prepare future professionals with the knowledge and skills to foster cultural competence. She also said we need to encourage students to acquire proficiency in languages used in our communities, other than English. She noted that LatinX communities are less likely to learn English than other migrant groups, mainly due to ethnic enclaves in cities around the U.S. Of course, the optimal solution would be to hire librarians that represent and look like the people in their communities.

Colon-Aguirre also recommended that libraries:
  • Employ community engagement strategies
  • Develop more programming
  • Build rapport with community members, especially those who are gatekeepers
  • Create bilingual catalogues 
Besides being proficient in another language, library will want to build cultural competence. Cultural competence is a set of attitudes, skills behaviors and policies that enable a person to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.  Rajesh Singh (St. John's University) and Beth Patin (Syracuse University) have MSLIS courses on this and others may also exist.

Chatman Revisited

LaVerne Gray and Bharat MehraLaVerne Gray and Bharat Mehra were two of the panelists in the session entitled, "Chatman Revised: A Panel Reexamining and Resituating Social Theories of Identity, Access, and Marginalization in LIS."  Gray joined the SU iSchool in August, so she's been educating me about Chatman for a while! Mehra was her doctoral advisor and remains a collaborator.

Elfreda A. Chatman (1942-2002) was "well known for her ethnographic approaches in researching information seeking behaviors among understudied or minority groups." (Wikipedia) Chatman studied information seeking behaviors, and then created theories about them.

Because I will not be able to fully articulate her work, I encourage you to locate information on Elfreda Chatman. Two articles, which I quickly found, are:
    When we look at a community, we will consider if the community has an abundance of information or is information deficit. We might ask whether the community seeks information from within itself or if it goes outside its boundaries to locate information. Chatman focused on how communities sought information from within itself. She saw an information deficit because a community - for whatever reason - might not go outside of itself for helpful information. Chatman created the theory of "life in the round", which explains why members of a community might seek information from within its boundaries.

    Rather than seeing the abundance of information within a community, Chatman saw a deficit. Rather than seeing external forces that created the confined community and questioning those forces, Chatman focused on the community as is. Mehra looks at Chatman through fresh eyes and is willing to question her theories, recognizing that doing so is uncomfortable for some.


    Listening to Mehra and Gray reminded me of conversations with Beth Patin about community knowledge, especially in ethnic and indigenous communities and epistemicide (the destruction of traditional knowledge). That destruction begins with devaluing the knowledge held within a community. The community knowledge is held as being deficient, while knowledge from outside the community is held as being more valuable and important.

    For example, using Chatman, the knowledge of an Amish community might be seen as deficit, because the community does not reach outside itself to enhance what it knows.  Thinking of epistemicide, the external world seeks to destroy the traditional knowledge of the Amish people because it is not based on broader concepts and is not valued.

    Did I Get it Right?

    As I've written this, I have gone back through my notes and looked at relevant tweets. I'm thankful for those people who tweeted the sessions, because they captured ideas in real-time that were taking me longer to parse. However, now it is your turn. If you were at ALISE or are steeped in these areas, did I get it right? What should be added or corrected? Please leave comments and let me know.

    Thursday, September 19, 2019

    This rant is overdue: Skype interviews

    Skype logo
    Over the years, I have been on many search committees and some of those committees have conducted Skype interviews.  I have a love-hate relationship with Skype interviews (or Zoom or whatever video tool people are using). They allow the search committee to conducted a live video interview with a candidate, where each side can see the other.  When each side is competent at using Skype, it works well. But often they are not and that is a problem.

    If you (a job applicant) will be giving a Skype interview, here are several things to consider:
    • Do you know how to use Skype to video chat with someone? If you have not used Skype previously, can you take a Skype tutorial or have someone give you a lesson?
    • Do you have the correct hardware, Skype version, and Internet connection so that the video interview will technically be a success?
    • Can you be hardwired to the Internet, so there will be no video lag?  Video lag could cause the interviewer to not hear all of your answers.
    • Do you have a headset, so that the sound will be the best possible?  Note that even earbud headphones can give you very good sound quality.
    • Can your device sit steady on a table, at a height that frames your face well?  The interviewer  does not want to be looking at the top of your head or gazing up your nose.
    • Does the lighting allow the interviewer to see your face clearly?
    • Does the interviewer have a phone number for you, which can be called in case something goes wrong?

    Tips for the Interviewer 

    Read all of the tips above and apply them to your role as the interviewer. Yes, you need to be competent, too. 

    If you are conducting confidential interviews, you may want to use a personal Skype account, so you can control who can see the call history.  Why shouldn't you use a shared Skype account?  Currently, there is no easy way of deleting the history of Skype video calls.  If that shared account can be accessed by anyone, they may see who has been interviewed and that may be a problem.

    Using Skype with Diverse Job Candidates

    • If you believe that seeing your candidates could adversely impact your process - in other words, that it could case bias reactions - then consider a conference call.  You can use Skype for a conference call, but you can also do that with many telephones.
    • Interviewers will automatically assume that the candidate is comfortable with a Skype call.  However, you may want to ask candidates for their consent, rather than assuming. Why?  A candidate may feel that a video interview will disclose a disability and put that person at a disadvantage early in the interview process.
    • Conversely, a Skype interview could be helpful in interviewing someone who using sign language or who needs to text chat along with video.  In other words, Skype could provide useful flexibility.

    What Else?

    This post has just been about the technology, but you - the interviewee or interviewer - need to pay attention to the other aspects of interviewing, too. Have you thought about the questions that will be used?  Have you rehearsed the questions or the answers?  If you are the job candidate, can you provide examples from your work history to support your answers? As the job candidate, can you explain why you are the best candidate?

    In other words, you need to prepare for the interview. Please.

    Wednesday, August 07, 2019

    The difference between a graduate student and a graduate scholar?

    As a follow-up to my first post today, here is a short video I did in 2010 on the difference between a graduate student and a graduate scholar?

    By the way, the auto-generated subtitles are accurate, but the subtitles in the video itself are not.

    Are you committed to learning?

    Seth Godin
    This is off-topic, so feel free to stop reading.  However, if you're interested in learning, keep reading.

    Last month, I wrote about a section in Seth Godin's book Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School Good For? The book is available online for free in full-text.  That post is The Standardized Mass Contract. With the outdoors beckoning, I am slowly making my way through the rest of the book.  As an instructor-teacher-professor, my mind keeps being drawn back to this section:

    27. The decision

    We don’t ask students to decide to participate. We assume the contract of adhesion, and relentlessly put information in front of them, with homework to do and tests to take.

    Entirely skipped: commitment. Do you want to learn this? Will you decide to become good at this?

    The universal truth is beyond question — the only people who excel are those who have decided to do so. Great doctors or speakers or skiers or writers or musicians are great because somewhere along the way, they made the choice.

    Why have we completely denied the importance of this choice?
    In less than three weeks, the fall semester classes will begin on many college campuses.  Students will walk into classrooms expected to be educated.  They will sit and expect that the information delivered will make them more employable after 2-4 years.  There are many reasons why students head off to college. I wonder how many are fully committed to the educational process, which includes a high level of commitment inside and outside the classroom.  I also wonder how many come expecting - and wanting - their thoughts and world-view to be challenged.  If your thoughts aren't being challenged, are you learning anything new?

    In section 44, Godin writes:
    Teaching is no longer about delivering facts that are unavailable in any other format.
    You may need to read that twice.  In most classes, students are expected to learn how others have thought about that subject. They need to get their thinking in line with everyone else on that topic.  However, what we need is to have students committed to learning what others think and then taking the next step and thinking radically about the topic themselves.  They need to question the topic with questions grounded in what is known, with an eye towards what's next.  Imagine a student who could ask what would happen if "X" occurred, and did so with the knowledge of A-W.

    In the movie, Hidden Figures, one of the characters implores his team to "look beyond."  To look beyond, a student needs to be committed to learning, questioning, exploring...and not to obtaining a specific grade.  Going for the grade is easy.  Looking beyond is where the opportunities are.

    If you're heading to school, to a conference, or to a workshop, are you committed?  Will you look beyond?