Daily Thoughts 120: Public Libraries

I spent time today working in a public library. I do that most days and love it. When I got up this morning I read news about libraries closing in Oregon. Voters didn’t approve the support needed to keep Douglas County Libraries open and with the loss of timber revenue, the libraries closed today. The main library (which has already faced hours reductions) closes next month. Even as Pew Research Center reported that 66% of Americans felt that closing the public library would have a major impact on their community.

Value ROI

Community Savings

Here’s a simple ROI calculation:

Cover art for VisitorI’m reading Visitor by C. J. Cherryh. The book costs $26.00. How much does it cost for me to check out from the library? $0.00.

Except that’s not true, is it? Because community members do pay for the library (unless they live in Douglas County). If the community agrees to pool their resources, each paying a small amount (averaging $7.25/month in my library), then anyone can come in and borrow materials. And do they?


Today I worked in the Winlock Timberland Library. In February residents borrowed material valued at over $104,000 dollars in this single small town library. For many of our libraries, it only takes a couple months to save residents enough money to equal the library expenditures for the year! Over the course of the year, they’ll continue to save residents even more. A month of library service costs a resident less than a Netflix subscription and offers movies, talking books, books, e-books, music, internet, WiFi, printing, and programs for everyone from children to job-seekers. The ROI figure above only includes borrowing material—not all the other services, so the actual figure is even higher!

On top of that, the library champions intellectual freedom, privacy, free speech, and protects the confidentiality of residents. While Congress votes to sell your browsing history, the library provides residents a private way to get online.

How many investments provide that sort of return?

Of course, I’ve been a lifetime library user and have worked in libraries since being a teacher’s assistant in my school library. Biased? You bet! My opinions on this blog are only my own. I’m not writing this in my position as an employee of Timberland Regional Library. I’m writing this as a citizen concerned with our intellectual freedom, privacy, free speech, and the future of our country. Every day I have the privilege of seeing people of all ages visiting the library, borrowing material, using the computers, reading newspapers, finding jobs, coding, and so much more. I see the impacts the library has on the lives of our residents, the opportunities it offers. 

Daily Thoughts 79: Wizardly Librarians

Author's Selfie I didn’t get much sleep last night. As I mentioned in my last post, I stayed up late. I’d meant to sleep in but as it turned out I didn’t. In fact, I woke up at about 3 AM and then stayed pretty restless and unable to sleep for the rest of the night and finally gave up a bit after 6 AM. Today still went pretty well, despite being tired. I finished a number of things for school.

Wizardly Librarians

Mostly, I’ve focused on my game for INFO287-11. Admittedly, I’m carrying it too far, but once the idea popped up I needed to make the game. I spent a good part of the day creating the 129 cards for the game (plus play order cards). They aren’t done. It’s a rough, initial alpha version to test out the gameplay. We played one game tonight and tomorrow I plan to record a game so that I can post a video to the website I also created for the assignment.

Did I mention that I took this too far?

screenshot, figuring out card distribution
Figuring out card distribution.
View of librarian cards
Librarian cards (artwork pending)

Okay, maybe I did take it too far. But I’m having fun!

Although set in a fantasy world, Wizardly Librarians focuses on an everyday process in libraries—filling hold requests. It’s a daily scavenger hunt. The game incorporates many other elements of libraries in a fun and engaging way. I’m looking forward to filming the video tomorrow.

Daily Thoughts 74: Valentine’s Day

Author's selfie I’m tired today! Packing up a library yesterday (moving all of the boxes from the library to the container) left me worn out. I logged over 17,000 steps yesterday on my FitBit. I had errands to run this morning. The car needed an oil change and I needed to get my cholesterol tested. I took today off work. Normally I’m off on Monday. Since I ended up working, I took today instead. Not the most romantic day!

Other than errands, fasting this morning, and feeling worn out from moving the library yesterday, I spent most of the day working on an assignment for my Gamifying Information class. It included a graph (assessing Pokémon Gothat took me too long to figure out how to create:

Pokémon Assessment graph

On the other hand, it was a great exercise to learn some additional skills. The rest of the assessment was more narrative-based.

Daily Thoughts 62: OCLC

Author's selfie It has been quite the day. I’ve enjoyed an opportunity to discuss a great many things that I’ve been thinking about, with other library professionals. The day started not long after I got up, and really went all day for the past twelve hours. We did take some breaks, enjoyed some meals, but even then it was mostly a conversation between library folk about libraries. I joked at dinner that it’d be fun to record the conversation and share it on YouTube. It was suggested, in response, that such a recording would not encourage people to join the profession. I don’t know about that, but then I’m biased. I think libraries do great things and have tremendous opportunities to make exciting changes going forward.

In any case, it’s getting late. Tomorrow we go back for more, and then straight from there to the airport and back home. I won’t get back until late tomorrow night, so I’m going to leave this short.

Daily Thoughts 61: Dublin, OH and their Amazing Library

Author's selfie I’ve enjoyed my first day in Dublin, OH. I did what librarians tend to do in a new city—go and see the library. I also walked along the Indian Run Falls trail (near both the hotel and library). On the way back I stopped at the local Kroger’s store for some organic, vegan, and chocolate supplies. The dark chocolate covered cranberries are particularly yummy! Munchies gathered, I returned to work remotely and to study. This evening includes dinner before the main event tomorrow and Friday.

Columbus Metropolitan Library | Dublin

View inside the Dublin LibraryA highlight of the day was visiting the Dublin Library. This is a nice library! With parking! Plus it’s adjacent to the park, near schools, and across the street from where new apartments are being built. I’m told it’s the second busiest in the CML system and it was in use today while I was there. Apparently, they’re actually going to build a new library in the same spot with three floors. Amazing.

I’d like to put together something more detailed about what I liked, but that’s going to have to wait until I get back.


Daily Thoughts 54: New Beginnings

Author's selfie I haven’t been feeling the greatest the past couple days. Headaches, upset stomach, and tired. Nothing too serious, just not on top of my game. It doesn’t help that I’m also down with the news about my grandfather’s death. Earlier, while listening to the Great Courses recording, the lecturer talked about Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” story. They die and happy endings are a lie. Not really something to focus on when you struggle with depression, but Atwood does point out that “beginnings are always more fun.” She also talks about savoring the bits in between. I think that’s good.

New Beginnings

Tomorrow kicks off the Spring 2017 semester and the start of my final set of classes in my MLIS program. I’m going to be very busy! Besides classes, I have a trip coming up, work, and everything else. Two of the classes start tomorrow, and another on Monday. That last class (Seminar in Library Management: Political Advocacy) is a short 4-week class which I’ll follow by another (Social Network Analysis and Social Analytics) for the rest of the semester.

I’m looking forward to the new semester! It should be fun.

Once I get into the classes, I’ll have a better sense of how much time I have for other projects, my reboot efforts, and the rest. I need to focus on classes first, that’s the top priority. If nothing else, I’ll have more time once summer starts. And in the fall I’ll only have my concluding e-portfolio project to work on.

Using Trello in Getting a Master’s Degree

Finish Line In Sight

Tuesday was a big day—no, not because of the election which felt like a surprise twist on Scandal. Tuesday was a big day for me personally because I registered for my final classes at San Jose State University. The Spring 2017 semester isn’t my last semester; I’ll still need to complete my e-portfolio project to complete the MLIS program, but it is the final semester when I’ll be taking classes.
Spring 2017 Trello Board

Trello Board

I’ve used Trello each semester to organize my classes and assignments. To celebrate registering for my final classes I went ahead and set up a new board for Spring 2017. I don’t have much on it right now, just a single card for each of my four classes:

Board Organization

I organize the Trello Board into a list for each class followed by three lists: Next Up, Doing, and Done. For visual interest, and ease of quickly identifying the board, I’ve set a background image.

Each class list starts with a general syllabus card (with an attached cover image representing the class). This card is also where I attached faculty information, and the syllabus once it is available for the class. If the professor has previously taught the course, I may attach the last syllabus.

Trello card example

If necessary, I may attach other documents, and once I know what the major assignments are, create a checklist for those assignments. Trello’s checklists are very useful (and you can have multiple checklists within a single card). Individual items on the checklist may also be converted into cards.

Labels and Due Dates

On each class list, I create cards for Lectures, Readings, Assignments, and Discussions. Sometimes I may also have a couple of other labels, such as Activities, or Resources, but usually, I stick with the four primary labels as well as a label for each course. The example above shows the INFO282-11 label.

Labels enable filtering—so I can filter the view to show only cards for a particular class, or all readings, etc. The color-coding also helps me identify what is going on at a glance.

Likewise, due dates are critical. Most classes have lectures, readings, assignments, and sometimes discussions due every week. By setting due dates on each card, I see what is coming up. Trello also color-codes the due dates on the card as they approach (or pass) the due date.

strongly prefer professors who post all of the course material on day one. Comments such as, ‘you would panic’ if the materials were posted are insulting. Professors don’t need to accept assignments early, and notions of keeping everyone on the ‘same page’ are ridiculous.

Canvas isn’t used effectively by many professors, and it lacks the features and personalization of something like Trello. I prefer to organize the materials on my board so that I can see at a glance what I need to focus on in the days and weeks ahead. I work full time. I have a family. And I’m a full-time student. Not to mention other interests, and basic needs like sleep and exercise, that take up my time. Withholding information only serves to make it more difficult for me to plan and organize my time.

Yes, I had to get that off my chest. I will continue to make that point on the SOTES (Student Opinion of Teaching Effectiveness). Keep it in mind if you decide to go back to school.

Card Movement

Once I stack the deck on each list with the individual cards for each week, I can see right across all my classes what is coming up. Then I make a choice on what I want to work on next and drag those cards to the Next Up list.

I limit how many cards I put on Next Up to three (most of the time). That helps me focus my attention on what I’m doing next. These could be cards from different classes, or all from a single class, depending on time, energy and resources available to tackle the work described by the cards.

From Next Up, I move one to the Doing list. In the beginning, I’ll usually move one more card over to Next Up from the class lists so that I still have three on Next Up.

Then I focus on the single card on the Doing list. When completed, I move it to the Done list and select a new card from the Next Up list. At some point, as the Next Up list is depleted, I decide what’s next and pull more cards from the class lists. In this way, cards move from the classes lists to Next Up, Doing, and Done.

Now and then I’ll have a card on the Doing list that takes more time, and can only be done at a certain time/place, e.g., I may need to use the code editor on my computer, but I’m at work. In that case, I may pull another card over to Doing that I can tackle on a break, such as reading assignments on my Chromebook.

Attachments and Markup

I attach everything to cards. Sample files, reading material, lectures, and instructions. I access Trello on a variety of devices from my computer to my phone and my Chromebook. Attaching everything I need makes it easy to access whatever I need to refer to or read. Typically I compose first drafts in Google Docs and then finish up later in Word.

Trello supports Markup notation in descriptions and checklists, making it easy to embed material and links directly within cards.


Trello offers extensive support for team collaboration—only I haven’t found any teams at the iSchool comfortable with learning to use Trello in order to take advantage of the features! It’s too bad because Trello would be ideal for groups collaborating on complex projects. Cards may be assigned to team members. It supports commenting and subscription features. With Power-Ups, Trello offers more features and integrations with many other services.

Still Learning

Since starting the program at the iSchool, I have learned new ways to use Trello. I continue to tweak and modify what I am doing. I don’t often use the Trello sticker function, those others may like it. I’ve tried using the custom field power-up to mark a card ‘done’ on the front, but it doesn’t quite do what I’d like. I think I’ll use a label instead.

Though I’m nearing the end of my studies at the iSchool, I intend to continue using Trello in my writing/illustration/publishing efforts. Along with Evernote, Trello remains one of my most used applications.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Die

Librarians keep secrets. They keep secrets all the time and consider it part of their jobs to keep secrets.

Like many teenagers I was curious about sex. Unlike many teenagers i went to the library and checked out books. I’m sure others do the same thing. Don’t they? I’ve always been a book person. When I want to learn something I naturally look for a book.

When you’re a teenager and curious about changes that are going on in your body, you have questions about relationships, dating, sex and all of that you’re not going to talk to your parents. Or maybe you did. I have a great relationship with my parents but it wasn’t something I was going to ask them about. No particular reason. And not being religious I didn’t have any lessons drummed into me about how sinful it was or anything like that.

It was just private.

The most difficult thing was overcoming my embarrassment to take the books up to the counter to check out. At the time they didn’t have computers. No self checkouts where I could discreetly check out books without having to hand them to the librarian. Without really thinking too much about it I trusted that the librarians weren’t going to tell my parents what I was reading.

Kids have privacy rights and librarians have a responsibility to protect those rights and keep materials confidential. As a parent I feel strongly that it is not the librarian’s responsibility or job to interfere with whatever my son reads. I’d be furious if a librarian told my son he couldn’t check something out, or if they called me about what he borrowed. Fortunately most librarians wouldn’t dream of it. Rather it is some parents that actually want librarians to get involved. I don’t want to be in between a parent and child. I’m just going to step over here and you can discuss it with your kids.

And be happy that your kid is reading. Build trust and maybe they’ll actually come to you when they have questions. Or not. Free speech requires the ability to access speech that others might disagree with, to have the opportunity to make up your own mind.

Librarians keep what you borrow secret. Cross my heart and hope to die.