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Kate Sheehan's Posts

Information Will Out

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on April 5, 2011 - 9:07am

I have something to confess to you all. For an embarrassingly long time, I thought the phrase “information wants to be free” (besides being the name of one of my favorite blogs) meant free as in speech, not free as in beer. My apologies in advance to my open source friends who are tired of “types of free” conversations -I’ll try not to mention kittens. But for quite some time, I was under the impression that “information wants to be free” was a rallying cry for access and simplicity, not content you didn’t have to pay for. “Information will out” was the underlying meaning I focused on.

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You Know, I Know, Don't Know

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on February 28, 2011 - 10:25am

Field trips in New England often revolve around hardship. And candy. As an elementary school student, I learned to make candles like the colonists did when they weren't busy starving to death or learning about corn. As a high school student, I watched a blacksmith (who would not break character to give us directions) sweat and work on a horseshoe for what felt like an eternity to my 16-year-old self. It's tough to be a settler, which is why historical attractions always sell fantastic anachronistic penny candy - it offsets the depression that would set in on the children who just spent three hours making a misshapen candle that will provide about twenty minutes of iffy light. And all that's before anyone bothered to mention the genocide sparked by the bonneted and buckled people all of our towns are named after.
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Let's Not Get Physical

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on January 27, 2011 - 10:10am

In the watered-down simplification of high school life that appears in teen movies (made by adults), libraries are the home of nerds. Jocks exist in the physical realm, while nerds dwell in the landscape of the mind. Anyone who has been to high school (or perhaps seen The Breakfast Club) knows that teenagers don’t live in a world so facile and rigid, but libraries, during and after we’re done with high school, are seen as temples to the intellect. Read More »


Ebook Locals and Tourists (hint: librarians should be locals)

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on December 28, 2010 - 10:15am

I grew up without tourists. Not for lack of trying on the part of certain groups in my hometown. There was a flurry of activity trying to establish eastern Connecticut as a hotbed of rural, agriculturally-based tourism. If only these well-intentioned folks had anticipated the local food movement. Maybe we could have put together a Community Supported Agriculture program in town. I would have gotten on board if the end result involved good tomatoes. Although I have lived a mostly touristless life, I know plenty of people who grew up or currently live in places overrun by visitors, where complaining about tourists is a local hobby. Read More »


Tech Tricks and Treats

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on October 27, 2010 - 8:42am

Inbox zero. Did you just clench your teeth or tense your shoulders? I did both, just typing the words. Like most people I know, my relationship with what I have come to think of as “productivity porn” is, as Facebook would say, complicated. Just as catalogs from furniture stores make me feel a little anxious about the piles of to-be-read books and magazines (and, ahem, the occasional tuft of dog fur) in my living room, productivity blogs and books make me eye my multiple inboxes with some trepidation. Read More »


Training, accidentally

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on October 4, 2010 - 9:50am

How did you answer the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” when it was posed to you? I recently unearthed the 3rd grade journal Mrs. Laufer had her students keep and found my own scrawled meditation on the subject. Librarian was not on my list. Most of us stumble into our lives, making the best decisions we can at the time. A few have an action plan early on and pursue their destiny with a single-mindedness that can impress and sometimes alienate the rest of us mere mortals. For librarians, there seems to be a second episode of “how did I get here?” if the professional titles that include the word “accidental” are any indication.  Read More »


Asking Why

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on August 27, 2010 - 9:47am

Anyone who has spent time with small children knows that "why?" is one of the best and most vexing questions people can ask. "Why?" probes for motivations, explanations, understanding. It demands reflection and clear communication, and I think it's safe to say that most people have a complex relationship with this tiny word.

Library techies can leverage "why?" to change how their organizations operate by questioning a ibrary procedure. Discussing workflow with coworkers and asking "why?" a lot, while offering ways to automate procedures, can offer value to your colleagues and your organization (and maybe wreak a little havoc). But "why?" is also a question library techs sometimes dread. "Why did it work before but not this time?" "Why is it broken?" "Why am I getting this error message?" Often the answer is straightforward: a setting has been changed, or a network problem is creating the error. But sometimes, getting to why would require an electrical engineering background and a path of inquiry beyond simply fixing the problem. Nothing is quite so frustrating as resolving a persistent error only to have your techjoy smashed to bits by a coworker disappointed because you're not quite sure why the computer stopped recognizing the printer, you only know that they're now friends again.
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Keeping Up with Keeping Up

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on August 3, 2010 - 9:22am

This summer, I was fortunate enough to attend a leadership institute led by Maureen Sullivan. First and foremost: if you get a chance to attend a workshop with her, do not pass go, just sign up.

The workshop began in earnest with everyone listing challenges and opportunities facing their libraries. “Keeping up with technology” cropped up early on. It always does. In my inside inside voice (the one that stays in my head), I wondered why we haven’t figured that one out yet. Shortly after the workshop ended, I came across the WebJunction report on library staff’s use of online tools. Read More »


Fines, Day Cares, and Ebooks: How is Your Library Assigning Value?

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on July 6, 2010 - 9:14am

Does your library charge fines? For everything? I've been chatting with a couple of libraries that don't charge fines for books, but do charge them for DVDs and videos. One library finds that their books often don't come back. Or that they come back months late. Not so with the DVDs and videos. Fines, they conclude, are the way to get materials back.
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"Sorry if I Spammed You"

Submitted by Kate Sheehan on May 18, 2010 - 10:59am


"Hi, I'm sorry if I spammed you" has been my standard greeting for the last several weeks. If you've ever had email contact with me, you already know some of this story: a few weeks ago, my gmail account was hijacked. I believe this is what they call a "learning experience."

As usual, timing is everything. In the middle of April, I spent two weeks at conferences, one of them driving distance from my house. On my way home from the first day of the conference, my phone chirped with the familiar text-message sound. Like a good driver, I ignored it. Read More »