What I did all week

What do regional libraries do? What kinds of libraries should they serve? How can we define their role and justify state funding for an institution that some librarians publicly say has outlived its usefulness? These are questions that a group of us struggled with last week as we wrote talking points to accompany the multitype library regions’ request for funding for the 2007 Minnesota Legislature. Writing talking points is particularly painful in a group that belabors the twist of every word and makes liberal use of a thesaurus to wordsmith the document. While I highly respect my colleagues and value their friendship — personally, after I have participated in the annual-writing-of-the-talking-points, I never look at them again. When I talk to local elected representatives, I talk about what I and our region accomplish with libraries to serve citizens.

As I think about what I did this week, I feel pretty good about what a region that is positioned to provide service to all types of libraries can accomplish. Here’s a week in the life of a multitype librarian:

A week ago today — I was at the media centers’ annual state conference, experiencing and planning with my colleagues in schools how we can bring back what we learned to improve student literacy.
Monday — I trained members of our regional staff how to use the State Library sponsored Minnesota Library Directory and keep it updated, so that everyone in the state has a directory to all libraries.
Tuesday – along with our cataloging librarians, I spent several hours at a small college, planning for their integration into the regional library network. Inclusion in the regional catalog will give their students greater access as well as giving the rest of the region (and the statewide network) access to the college’s unique collection.
Wednesday — My Director and I met with an enthusiastic library planning committee, which is working to start a new public library in their community.
Thursday – I assisted 3 public libraries in starting library blogs. Then I met with the representative committee that advises development and use of the integrated library system for over 80 libraries of all types.
Today/Friday – A public librarian and I met with the director of the historical society in her town, inviting them to join the library network, which will extend the environment for potential cooperation and collaboration.

Wow! It’s been a good week of service for our region – and (I hope) one well worthy of continued funding.

2006 MEMO

Minnesota Educational Media Association is meeting this week. Here is what has stood out for me in presentations I’ve attended:

Opening session featured panel of 3 Minnesota leaders in education and technology: Kit Hadley, Minneapolis Public Library Director; Scott McLeod, Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education at the University of Minnesota; Gopal Khanna, Chief Information Officer for the State of Minnesota.

Kit Hadley opened, quoting Joey Rogers from the Urban Libraries Council, reminding us that all libraries are part of a larger institution and libraries’ financial well-being is directly linked to that of the parent institution. She said that “Ready for K” (for instance) is an economic issue and one that will get attention for participants. She warned that proposed legislation will not be effective when it is the same issues over and over, albeit repackaged prettier and wittier.

Gopal Khanna said that information and technology literacy is a workforce issue. Historically, education has been a passing on of memorized information from generation to generation. Contemporary education needs to be based on research and learning. It is important to teach not for today’s world, but the world students will encounter in 15 years. He further challenged us with the idea that society has 2 sectors – the public and the private, which react in different ways and that the private sector has much to learn from the public sector. He said the private sector too much “loves to celebrate the problem.” Nobody comes to meetings with a solution — they are focused on talking about and agreeing on “the problem.”

Scott McCleod (presentation online) listed 4 trends that will continue: increased diversity, increased technology, globalization, and aging population. We have no idea what the workplace will be like for children, but we must prepare them for it. The folks in charge “don’t get it.” Kids find schools irrelevant. He said that technology has brought in a global environment. We need to ask what it means to write for a global environment. We ask kids to write for the teacher, but when they go home, they write for the global environment. Which is more relevant, meaningful, exciting? He quoted Seth Godin: “They say we can’t handle this much change. I say, your relevance is in jeopardy. What choice do you have?”

Constance Steinkuehler delivered The Digital Collective and Commons: Massively Multiplayer Online Games and the New Media Literacy. She spoke knowledgeably about the cultural and intellectual significance of gaming. Kids are using textbooks as cheats for their games. Exciting!

Keith Johnson spoke about using blogging in the classroom. He brought student Trevor Born, writer of the Twins blog, TwinsJunkie.com. Trevor has gained the attention of the Star Tribune and done a radio show. A great testament to the positive impact of blogging on kids who participate.


There is nothing that has given me more trouble since the dawn of technology than printers. I even have a collection of printers that defy every troubleshooting tip I’ve read. And for most of the printers I’ve given up on, I even have a few ink cartridges (some of them unopened) that don’t fit anything, but I put them away just in case. And I suspect that I’m not the only one suffering from revenge of the bubble jets.

Yesterday I visited my octogenarian mother who said rather apologetically, “can you look at my printer?” She asked apologetically, because it seems like about every other time I visit her something’s wrong with the printer. None of her other peripherals give her a moment’s problem – but the printer (actually all 3 that she’s had) periodically goes into a snit and has to be cajoled, or even re-installed, in order to perform its task of simply printing the job sent to it. Lately this printer has been displaying a great deal of terrible twos temperament, in keeping with its age. Well, after doing everything I could think of (and cleaning out the print queue list of documents the poor lady has sent to it multiple times) I managed to print out one test page, by gently tugging on the paper as it came through. The HP tech support site confirmed my fears – that the feeder-thingamabobs are worn, and the printer is fulfilling its planned obsolescence. As I promised Mom that I’ll bring her a new printer next time I come, she confessed that she has just bought new ink and could I please try to find a printer that uses the same ink (since she’s lost the receipt) – not potentially likely, I suspect.

I’ve gone through countless printers in my home office. The super-deluxe Epson printer-scanner-FAX-no-it-doesn’t-make-coffee on my desk, bought to save space, lost its ability to receive a print job mid-way through its first year. After hours of going through the phone support maze tech-support-guy-half-way-around-the-world and I decided the only thing to do was package it up and mail if off – not likely, or even prudent. So, I made my way to Best Buy on the corner and bought a cheap Canon-which-does-just-fine to use until some miracle lightning bolt might make the scanner-FAX-but-doesn’t-print wake up. Hasn’t happened, and now I have 2 devices where there used to be one which replaced 3.

While I was grousing about this recently to millennial niece, she said to me straight-faced, “Did you try shaking it?” Seems that when she had a problem with her printer, and called the manufacturer tech support, they told her to unplug it, hold it upside down, and shake it —- and it worked! Go figure, but no, it didn’t work for me.