infinite digressions


slow blogging

Anybody who has ever walked a busy city street with knows that at some point, I’m going to stop mid-sentence and say something like “I smell french fries. Do you smell that?” I zone out to music or books on my way to work, losing track of the metro stops. I am brought back to reality by the smell of pizza on the train, and in that darkened tunnel I know the next stop is Berri UQAM (and that the pizza shop inside it is busy).

I haven’t been here in a long time. I’ve been distracted by deliciousness at the Digestive Librarians’ Digest for awhile. Librarians’ writing about food, yes.  Even there, I’ve been a bit negligent with the posting. I spent a week in Havana over New Years and I’ve been sitting on a post about food in Cuba. That post will probably never see the light of day. For the life of me, I can’t figure out a way to discuss/explain the fact that lunch for 2 was 75 cents one day, and dinner that same day was 50$.

Recently this blog, and my very first post was highlighted on the Dysart & Jones Associates site. I met Rebecca Jones & Jane Dysart at the OLA super conference. I was there to talk about multilingual online services with  Alexandra Yarrow an Ottawa public librarian who blogs admirably (and) regularly at  only connect . After attending the session, Thinking Strategically & Critically: Seeing Possibilities , I was able to draw some connections between what Rebecca was saying and what the “yes” session exercise embraced. We had a conversation about it and I am so thrilled that she saw the value in it – as what she said was certainly valuable to me. I see value in it. I’m happy she did. I hope you do too.

This is the part where I say “yes” to my own blog. I may not blog frequently, but I try to blog thoughtfully. I hope you’re still here and that you’ll stay with me.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Digestive Librarians’ Digest

Chocolate covered pickles

Chocolate covered pickles. Not yummy.

I’ve started another blog with 2 of my food lovin’ librarian friends. You can find us at Digestive Librarians’ Digest where we’ll be discussing food with a dash (no guarantees) of library-related stuff.

Send a message to diglibdig at if you’re a librarian and you’re interested in writing for our blog. Share your info. Share your food.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Time travel–reality

My most frequent subject search in the lib cat is  “Time travel–Fiction” but today my fiction became a reality. I haven’t been this excited about a website in a long time. Today, in Serendipity-land, I came accross a website called Historypin. I read about it on Brain Pickings. org where I saw a nifty video of how this site works. At its coolest, it works with Google Maps street views and you can overlay video or images.

Check it

This comes at a wonderful time as we’re starting to digitize the local portion of our postcard collection. I played with an image from the 1930s at the Westmount Lookout and it was pure magic!

Google Maps Mania has some great video examples.

Filed under: Uncategorized

CIL 2010: Making an Impact with Multilingual Websites

post by Lora Baiocco and Jocelyne Andrews

At this year’s Computers in Libraries, we spoke about multilingual web services for libraries. Thank you Jane Dysart and selection committee for putting us on the agenda!

During our 15 minute Cybertour presentation, we covered 6 tips and 4 wishes. We were happy to see smiling faces and nods of approval in the audience and thrilled to be stopped in the lobby and at karaoke by audience members who told us how they are now thinking of offering services to their communities in multiple languages. We even got an invite to speak at our ILS vendor’s user group conference.

We know that some libraries are already providing these services and we’ve bookmarked some of them, along with other resources,  in our delicious account . We love and admire your work. Trying to put our money / l’argent / dinero where our mouth is, we tagged our bookmarks in English, French and Spanish where applicable.

We must work in both English and French in whatever we do and we felt that we had working insight into what it means to provide services in another language. It can be simple and it can be complicated. Our 6 tips are invitations for you to try something for your community. Our 4  wishes  briefly address the complicated nature of the issue and present what we think will make multilingual services flick-of-the switch flexible and easy to implement.

Your community needs are different from ours and we didn’t and couldn’t launch into needs assessment – but we hope that some of the tips and wishes we offered shed new light on the people around you. We’re also aware of the fact that any discussion of inclusion carries with it issues of exclusion. Knowing our communities is the only way to be sensitive to the needs, wants, and feelings of the people around us. Right, choir?

Why should you care?

  • We all want to reach our whole community
  • Physical vs. virtual? Still? : Are you offering programmes / services in multiple languages and is that reflected on your website?
  • Access = value (for customers and decision makers)
  • Finally, we’re asking how can we be all about “the conversation” when we’re not speaking our users’ languages?
  • View language as an opportunity and not a barrier

Tip 1: Use free stuff

  • New South Wales State Library over 100 library terms and phrases in 49 languages that can be used for signage, marketing materials, and of course your website.
  • UNTERM:United Nations Multilingual Terminology Database – 85 000 terms in 6 languages
  • REFORMA – advocates for Spanish language library services in the US offers tips, guidelines and tools.

Tip 2: Translate & Re-use

  • Translate static information (address, hours, collection descriptions, services, etc) and use in many places such as, library directories, social media profiles, your own website.
  • You may not be translating all your information, but you’re sending out a clear invitation to your non-English speaking customers.

Tip 3: Find Opportunities in what you’re already doing

  • List yourself in multiple languages through the Google Local Business Center so your customers can find you online. (We have an English and French listing so we can be searched in both languages in Google Maps)
  • Add tags to your Flickr  account (our account in FR & EN) in multiple languages: use an online dictionary to find the right word, (please) test it in Flickr to make sure you have the correct word then tag it.
  • Hang a sign on your website: create a list of staff  members letting your customers know  who is able and willing to help them in other languages.

Tip 4 : Design with language in mind

  • Save time, money & the pain of having to adapt after the fact. Think about language when designing marketing materials, library programmes, the structure of your site, etc.
  • Involve you patrons in artistic projects that address visual literacy and cross linguistic barriers (let teens design your website backround, for example)

Tip 5: Use the catalogue

  • Collocate collections by adding a virtual branch, adding a local subject heading or offering language as a filter.

Tip 6: Transcreate. Eh?

  • We’re borrowing this term from marketing and translation. In order to transcreate we look beyond the words and try to understand, participate and be aware of what’s happening in our communities. Adapt services and messaging to context and collections in an effort to create relevant services in different languages


Wish 1: Multilingual add-ons

  • We wish interfaces and content in multiple languages was always an option. (Ask your vendors!)

Wish 2: Design Intention

  • We wish that library services, created by libraries and vendors,  were always designed to serve users in multiple languages from the outset. Help us today and keep us flexible for future communities.

Wish 3: Re-think search

  • We wish more people (vendors included) would start to leverage available technologies to re-think search (see CACAO project for a good example)

Wish 4:

  • Our final wish is for access to information for all library users whether they seek it in the ways and languages we’re familiar with or not

Once again thanks to the whole Information Today team!

(Our contact info is on the final slide)

Filed under: Uncategorized, , ,

Wishing every library could run this campaign

bus shelter ad

The library opens its pages to you 7 days a week. A life close to everything.

From a bus shelter in Montreal.

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

The library is moving.

A few weeks back, while pouncing on, I came across a toymaker who makes sweet forts for kids. The “Our Local Library, Card Table Playhouse” is made out of felt and slips over a card table. Kids can hang out inside and play library. All you need is a table!

From missprettypretty’s description of the playhouse:

THIS PLAYHOUSE CAN BE REMOVED, FOLDED, AND STORED IN SMALL SPACES!!! I even include a matching fabric bag for storage!
*Promotes imaginative play…Use as an extra special space for quiet time, story time or even nap time. Excellent for “me myself time”. And, BEST of all, write your own story in the story book with the included alphabet!

My first thought, “Toys are way better now.” and my second “Some of us could use this as a home office”.

And then I came accross a link  to the boards for a student project, out of the California College of Arts,  by Duncan Young and Brett Walters who created “The Atomized Library”.

In this library, oh wait, there is no “in this library”. Working with Google technology, this library is everywhere our patrons are physically. Futuristic pod sheds for every purpose (loud spaces, teen spaces, social spaces and info immersion units) are scattered around the city, meeting users wherever they may have an information need. The pods/units are small and easily deployable. And the role of the librarian?

The Librarian is re-imagined in the context of the digital library. Our design calls for a digital librarian that would be spread throughout the city acting as a way finder, a network manager, and interface. The librarian would be the device one would use to schedule a performance in a Loud Space or time in an info immersion unit. One could also check e-mail and transfer loads of data over a high strength bandwidth.

I hope the “device” is named after the profession of the people who create it.

Read more about “The Atomized Library” on The BLDGBLOG and see all 4 boards on Flickr.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , ,

Web 2.You at McGill – the little conference that could and does

The 3rd annual Web 2.You conference at McGill University just keeps getting better. The day started off with some intros from the current organizer, Amanda Halfpenny and a  Web 2.You pioneer, Amy Buckland. I had the pleasure of sitting beside Jocelyne Andrews (full disclosure, her office is right beside mine and we joke about cutting a window in the wall) who was also a Web2.You founder along with  with Amy and Jan Dawson.

Overall impressions before the summaries that can’t possibly do  justice to the wealth of ideas that this conference brought to the table this year. This student run conference attracts some of the brightest minds in library land. The level of discourse has shifted. We’re no longer talking about the nuts and bolts – let’s stop obsessing about the medium – but rather the implications, the practice, and the future.  It’s conferences like this one that press the fast forward button in your brain. The spirit of sharing and learning makes me happy to be a librarian. The fact that my co-workers, boss, and former boss, and a library committee member were there makes me feel lucky.

Jenica P. Rogers, Director of Libraries, SUNY Potsdam was exuding elegance at the podium as she took us through the good, the bad and the ugly on online identities for professionals.  Be thoughtful, be honest, be aware, and think ahead – of course, it’s richer than that so if you ever get a chance to see her speak, go. Drawing attention to the generational differences surrounding online identities and attitudes/expectations of those born with a silver iPhone in their mouths, Jenica pointed out in no uncertain terms that “we are all already old”. The insightful and mature note I jotted down was “BURN!” – that’s burn on us. Our users and future users are already here. She points out that our compromise to meet them where they are is not even close to good enough. In the future, who will our decision makers be? Who will they hire? What will they do and how quickly can it be done? What set of assumptions will they bring with them?   Real questions for an uncertain future. I’ve been wondering lately about social  & business life 10 – 20 years from now, when whole generations of people remain connected to their childhood friends (no more awkward re-connections with your best friend from grade 4) , having never lost touch. How will social and business relationships change? What impact will that have on our virtual and RL trusted networks?

Graham Lavender , co-organizer of  this event last year, discussed  blogs and Twitter.  Graham seamlessly wove together perspectives on being a newly graduated student, the ease and power of blogs and Twitter, and encouraged us all to get involved. After listening to these two presentations, the guilt about my negligent blogging was rising. I’ve considered changing the name of this not-so-frequently updated blog to “finite digressions”. In my heart, but maybe not my stomach,  I know that working on a history of the “Friday Club Sandwich in Quebec” (check your local greasy spoon menu)  is no excuse to neglect my library musings.

Panel discussion: put 3 of Montreal’s brightest minds on a panel and throw out some broad questions on democratization -  Michael Lenczner, Patrick Lozeau, and Michele Ann Jenkins, put their heads together and pushed this conference to the next level. Seriously, my notes are so ridiculous. I couldn’t keep up with the amazing ideas. In my opinion, Michele should speak at many conferences everywhere and anywhere. Here’s a nugget I can extract for you from that discussion and it comes via Michele: “My internet is not your internet”. We can’t keep talking about it as a singular thing and assume we’re all talking about the same thing. Wait for the video of this and watch it in its entirety. I’m going to watch it again. Please check out their bios too – I can’t summarize their achievements here. Here’s a link to the wiki for bios and video (hopefully coming soon):

You may also want to check the Tweets  #web2you for real-time reactions to the event and Megan’s amazing ability capture the moments.

Michael Porter, aka Libraryman,  uncensored, live at Thompson House, one day only. Tech tool #1, #2, #3, #4……Available in Canada, who cares? He reminds us that “tech is a tool, not a panacea” and “when it’s the right tool, we should use it.” So what are the right tools for us? Do we have them? Are we using them? Who are we trusting to build what we need?  What started off as leisurely stroll through the tech park grew into a frantic facing of the facts. Where is the infrastructure to support libraries and, more importantly, library users’ needs (what, when, where they want it) and why are we not real players in the infrastructure game? that so directly impacts access? that so directly impacts service? that so directly determines our relevance? I can put it down here as a few reasonable questions, but the effect in the room was like running in heels while being chased by zombies through that tech park with only a gum wrapper, a salad spinner and dead AA battery for protection.  The presentation also reminded me of that distinct Montreal music sound – it starts off soft and then builds and builds to a cacophony. All of a sudden, Arcade Fire’s Régine is screaming over 15 instruments. So in the spirit Arcade Fire let’s ask “Who’s gonna throw the very first stone?” and then, why can’t it be us?

The SLA student chapter 5 a 7 was a blast. I finally got a peak into the new SIS building and hey(!), why didn’t anyone tell me that SIS had moved into Hogwarts? It all makes sense really, this is where library magic begins and I’ll take the train from platform 9 3/4  any day.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Inspired by patron/person/friend

Thursday, I saw Olivia: A Folk Opera / Une Eulogie Musicale. It was created and directed by my co-worker/friend/local artist and musician Katherine Peacock. You’ll notice a lot of  “/” in this post already. That’s because we are always more. I knew Olivia as a patron – but nobody is ever just a patron. Katherine was inspired by her in ways I can only understand through this heartbreaking work. I want to be careful with the words  “know” and “knew” because her musical masterpiece brings up questions of knowing others. I “knew” Olivia, but not the same way Katherine did. I know, after seeing the performance, more about Katherine and Katherine/Olivia. Or so I think.

While we’re searching for ways to inspire our patrons, Katherine has shown me that we too should be open to a flood of inspiration. Her work was nothing short of  heartbreaking and spectacular. I’m so proud of her and her artists and so thankful that I had the chance to see it.  Tonight is the last performance of 3 sold out shows. If you have a ticket, bring tissues.

Find out more on the Olivia Soundings site:

Watch CBC news tonight for a story on the show.

Words from Olivia, the person:

“Do not be ungrateful, fool.
Live always
With whomever is with you
With whomever is with you.”

Maria Olivia Ramirez Rabiela

Filed under: Uncategorized

Reading Maps – Plot the plots of your whole collection

In Toronto, my hometown, with Alex Yarrow for the OPLA RA in a Day!
Reading maps came into my life through Ann Moffat, former Library Director at the Westmount Public Library. She heard about them at a PLA conference in 2006 and got together with other local librarians to create a tool that we could share.
At WPL, I created a template that we have used over and over again – and no, the format doesn’t get stale, because the content guides the form and the aesthetics of each map change with each map.

“Difference plus design equals delight” – Marty Neumeier, The Designful Company, 2009.

Wanna see what this is all about. Ms. Yarrow, has links and other good stuff on her blog

Still here?
The concept is simple, pick a book – one your customers know/like/relate to and follow the ideas contained within it. You’ll find yourself weaving a wonderful path through your whole collection – departmental barriers, bah! (A biography of Julia child can lead you to an Omnivore’s Dilemma, you just have to plot the points in between. Literacy and Longing in L.A., by Jennifer Kaufmann – chick lit for lit lovers – can lead you to historical murder mystery. Thanks for Iain Pears Ms.Kaufman.)

Make a print version of your map, make an online version, make a Flickr version, or hey, why not a podcast tour?

Filed under: Uncategorized

You gotta know when to file ‘em

Library buttons that never made it

Library buttons that never made it

Before she left, my amazing and now retired director took a moment to present some bad ideas that never made it. So we laughed. Enough time had passed.

Here was my favourite never-got-off-the-ground idea. While cleaning out her files, she found a mysterious (unmarked except for our address) envelope. Nobody knows where it came from or when.

These buttons were inside and before you read on, I should let you know that they never once pierced a cardigan . I believe this was their 3rd time out the envelope. Also keep in mind that we really do like talking to our patrons and that we live in a city renowned for its eye contact.

Here is my attempt at translation – you’ll get the gist.


Green: TURN OFF YOU CELL PHONE  THANK YOU! (Yeah, that’s a circle with a line through it)

Blue: ARE YOU TALKING? SURE, WITH A LOWERED VOICE  THANK YOU! (Why are my buttons yelling at you?)


My reaction -  OMG, can I take a picture of those for my blog? Her response – You can have them.

What would Ann do? It’s a question I ask myself a lot these days. Separating the good ideas from from the not so good ideas was one of her specialties; it seemed almost instinctual.

She gave each of us one of Aaron Schmidt’s Creating Future Libraries notebooks and we also have a communal book in the staffroom. I’m looking forward to seeing what great ideas come out of those…

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.