Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The 2009 ACRL/NY Symposium

The 2009 ACRL/NY Symposium took place on December 4th at Baruch College. This Symposium comprised a unique opportunity to listen to young academic librarians discuss how they became administrators and managers early on in their careers. Their quick rise and innovative management styles have essentially made them the ‘Library Leaders’ at their academic institutions and within the profession. Even though the symposium was geared toward academic librarians currently in the field, their collective advice inspired me to be more proactive and innovative in the projects I take on in the school library I manage as well as in my own graduate education. Each of the speakers illuminated the differences between good managers and good leaders, and why the two are not synonymous.

One of the more interesting topics discussed was the question of new librarians who desire to ascend to management roles with only a few years of experience. The first speaker, Brian Mathews (formerly of GA Tech, currently at UC Santa Barbara, and blogs as The Ubiquitous Librarian), said it best when he stated during his “Service and Subconscious” speech that “To be a good leader, one must first be a good follower.” New librarians must have significant project experience in order to fulfill leadership roles and before requesting supervisory and other advanced job titles. Mathews speech also centered on the role positive user experiences play within academic libraries, stating that libraries should be a “place of refreshment for minds and bodies” and a “holistic experience.” He also reiterated the importance of marketing academic libraries to users through innovative outreach methods, stating that librarians must “Change the lens through which one views their customers.” Important questions to ask when assessing Access Services include: “How do we frame interactions with users and staff?”, “What does the library’s future look like?”, and “What does an ideal interaction look like?”

Mathews utilized the book When Fish Fly as an example of a failing Seattle fish market that re-envisioned their business as a tourist destination through innovative marketing, increasing their customer base and their profits as a result. Mathews also encouraged librarians to create a positive group work environments because both positivity and negativity are contagious. If someone is negative, challenge it. If someone is not providing good reference, challenge it by telling them “You’re not on Vision.” Librarians need to be empowered to take an active stance in order to be “an essential force in the learning experience.”

The presentations and speakers at the ACRL/NY Symposium offered a multitude of advice on how create innovative management styles and lead staff. More information on the Symposium, the poster sessions, and the recommended booklists on leadership are available at the ACRL/NY blog:

Photos of the event on Flckr:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My first Midwinter

This past weekend, I attended my very first professional conference ever, ALA's Midwinter 2010 in Boston, MA. This was also the first time I'd ever visited Boston, but that's a story for another time. I hope this list of twelve lessons learned will help other future conference attendees.

In no particular order, they are:
1. Bring LOTS of business cards. I brought 50 with me, and although I did not run out over all, I did run out one day because I forgot to replenish my stack on Saturday morning after Friday's networking events. Also, another conference attendee stored her business cards in her name tag -- a great trick to always have them at hand.

2. Don't do everything. Really. I read this before I went and did not heed the advice. I tried my best to hit all the events that interested me, so I was exhausted on Saturday night. Edit, edit, edit (or weed, weed, weed, we are librarians) your schedule. #3 also speaks to this issue.

3. Feel free to come late and/or leave early from sessions. As long as you do it quietly and respectfully, no one seemed to mind when people were late or left early.

4. Account for travel time. Although the Boston Convention and Event Center (BCEC) was enormous, all the events were not held at the BCEC, so shuttle buses sponsored by Gale from from the hotels to the BCEC. It took about 20 minutes for me to get from the BCEC to the hotels I needed to go to -- a problem when meeting #1 ends at 10:30 and meeting #2 starts at 10:30 and they are at different venues. See lesson #3.

5. If staying with friends to save money (a great tip in and of itself), consider splurging for a hotel for one night. In my case, my friends' neighbors had loud parties on Friday and Saturday nights, so I missed out on sleep, and had to schlep to the BCEC at 8:00 the next morning. It would have been worth the cash to be alert at least one early morning.

6. Network, network, network. For me, this is what the conference was all about. Because I am a new librarian, I didn't have any committee meetings, so I met and visited with a lot of people. I hope that at least some of these contacts will turn into lasting relationships.

7. The big-ticket events are interesting (shout out to Al Gore, who gave an inspiring speech about climate change), but connections are made in the smaller gatherings. As someone with a background in history, I attended RUSA's History section discussion group and had a wonderful experience. In my library school, we learned about subject guides using the term "pathfinder," which, according to the librarians in the History section, is out-of-date. LibGuides is now the preferred term (and a vendor as well). Everyone else was talking about LibGuides and I asked for clarification.

8. Speak up! I may not have looked like the smartest person in the room in that History section meeting, but I'm glad I spoke up because it was an ice-breaker with fellow attendees when the meeting was over.

9. Don't be afraid to stop strangers and ask them questions. One of the great contacts I made was a woman I stopped on the Exhibit floor because she was wearing a RUSA badge and I wanted to learn more about the association. I would posit that almost all librarians became librarians to help people, so if you have a question, ask!

10. Plan ahead if you're going to take advance reader copies (ARCs) or buy books. I give myself a C- in this area: my suitcase was only about halfway full when I got to Boston (a step in the right direction), and while the books I picked up fit in the suitcase, it became far too heavy to lift by myself and navigate the subway (oops). I tried to use the ALA Post Office, but the line was VERY long just before it closed and I was stuck. Next time, I will hit up the Post Office earlier or be more selective.

11. Bring snacks with you. I nearly missed a meal because my resume review session (which was excellent, I highly recommend taking advantage of this service offered by the New Members Round Table) ran over. If I had had a granola bar, I would not have been forced to scarf down quite possibly the worst piece of pizza I ever had while running to hear Al Gore (which seemed to be the only event to which no one either was late or left early).

12. The Exhibit floor can wait. I tried to cram visiting the Exhibit floor into small time slots on Saturday and Sunday, but I was at the conference Monday as well and should have taken my time to leisurely visit then. Also, as a student looking for my first library job, some exhibitors were, shall we say less-than-friendly? Perhaps Library Directors have a better experience here.

Beth Daniel Lindsay, MA, MLS


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Be my Valentine & Meetup at the Horticultural Society of New York

What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to be a part of a great event hosted by the Horticultural Society of New York and the New York Librarians Meetup Group. On February 9, 2010 at the headquarters of the Horticultural Society (148 West 37th Street) there will be a one time chance to meet the author of the “delicious” book- The New Taste of Chocolate: a Cultural and Natural History of Cacao. Culinary historian, Maricell Presilla, will be discussing her newest edition of her book. In her book you can read about the history of chocolate from the first Latin American Cacao plantations, where the world’s finest chocolates are grown, to the up and coming chocolate fads of today. The book also discusses the makings of chocolate and what constitutes good quality and flavor by delving deep into the complexities of genetics, that even chocolate possesses. Recipes and photographs are also included so that you yourself can create your very own delicious chocolate at home or take a glimpse at some of the finest chocolates around the world. The discussion will include topics like the history of chocolate throughout the ages and her ideas on the newest chocolate trends around the world. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a chocolate tasting of all different types of artisan chocolates, as well as some traditional Latin American chocolates from her own collection.

So if you are interested, don’t forget to register for this great event by calling the Horticultural Society at (212) 757-0915, x100. The event costs $10 for HSNY members and $20 for non-members. Once registered, we will see you on February 9, 2010 at 148 West 37th Street on the 13th floor at 6:00pm (find us by looking for the Red Meetup Badge). Hope you all come and experience the World of Chocolate with a riveting lecture and discussion, delicious chocolate tasting and generous book signing.

Afterwards, there may be a tour of the Horticultural Society’s library with librarian Katherine Powis where you will be able to learn how the Horticultural Society functions and provides for the public that it serves. As a social service structure to the community of New York, HSNY provides many different educational resources and tools for people to use. The library, “with thousands of volumes on all aspects of gardens and gardening…informs and inspires gardeners, students, and casual browsers” and enables them to make use of the diverse collections it provides.

There will also be a break-out after session at a neighborhood venue, to be announced shortly. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please post on the NYL Meetup website ( or e-mail Stephanie (
Hope to see you all there for some interesting and yummy talk on the world of chocolate, and interesting information on an important part of a green and growing societal organization in New York.

SLA-LIS Career Fair January 12, 2009

I attended the SLA-LIS Career Fair on January 12, 2009. Some of it was helpful but most of it reiterated what I already knew from prior workshops, especially the section on writing an impressive resume. The biggest problem was the poor technology interface as Ellen described in her post. Even though I was disappointed by some of the programs, it was a good networking opportunity.

The section on life after librarianship by Barbara McFadden Allen was the most helpful to me. Her advice on career transition and taking responsibility for your own career path was excellent. Employers are looking for certain attributes and skills : flexibility, intelligence, analytical thinking, resourcefulness, problem solving, leadership, teamwork, project management and clear communication. I found her advice better for updating my resume than information imparted in the resume writing workshop. She also spoke about career options. You can pursue "librarianish careers" with vendors or professional associations. There is also consulting. You can also expand on the portions of your position that interest you the most, e.g. IT, nonprofit management, teaching and communications. If you are expanding on your previous positions, you have to build a new network by going to meetings and trade shows about your new interest. Volunteer in an organization that pursues your chosen career path. Contribute articles to publications outside the library community. Self-assessment is vital. Ms. Allen recommended a website: Remember, if you are starting a new path, you will be a beginner. Transition is difficult, so look for a mentor.

Elisa Topper listed the most important mistakes by jobseekers. Much of her advice can be found in other sources but it was useful to see the information as a list. If you are interested, I can send you the detailed list. Just email me personally at

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New York Librarians Meetup Group at the Morgan Library

A Visit to The Morgan–Renzo Piano Building Workshop Project Exhibition on Sunday January 10, 2010

The Morgan expansion project is a special exhibition that presents a historical survey of the site from the 1850s through today. The exhibition is organized by The Morgan Library & Museum and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. It features materials such as drawings, models, and photographs from the conceptual design phase to the finished scheme.

The history of the building is not a static one, structures were put up, added to, altered, demolished—whatever their owners deemed necessary or desirable. Part one of the exhibition traces the development of the Morgan's current property from its beginning in the 1850s. Part two examines how Renzo Piano realized the Morgan's institutional goals then rationalized and developed a plan for the complex he first encountered in 2000. The final section examines aspects of design development and provides images of finished work that link architectural drawings to completed construction.

Brief History
Near the turn of the 19th century, Pierpont Morgan
(1837-1913), one of the great American financiers began to amass a collection of art objects, which rivaled the holdings of Europe’s most celebrated libraries. Within the next ten years, Morgan’s collections grew quite large and needed a building of their own where they could be housed and put on display. Completed in 1906 by the architect Charles McKim, Morgan’s original library was done as a “Renaissance-style palazzo of formal elegance and understated grandeur.” McKim even directed the builders in an ancient construction method using Tennessee pink marble that was laid with virtually no mortar— a technique which contributed to the library’s extraordinary refinement.

In late 1906 Pierpont Morgan began using his new library, which contemporaries described as a “bookman’s paradise” and “icily exquisite”. Two decades later the New York Herald Tribune called it “…perfect, inside and out, a Renaissance gem set in the heart of prosaic New York.” In 1924 J.P. Morgan Jr., also known as Jack, transformed the library into a public institution as a memorial to his father. As the collections grew, he also added an annex (which opened in 1928) adjacent to the original building to serve the as both a library and museum. In 1988 the original Morgan house erected on the east side of Madison Avenue between 36th and 37th streets in the mid-nineteenth century was renovated by the firm Voorsanger and Associates. The firm designed a modern glass and steel atrium or Garden Court to the site of the former Morgan family garden.

Following the 1988 construction, offices were created on the house’s upper floors and the first floor period rooms were used as conference rooms and a shop. The fourth floor was later connected to the Thaw Conservation Center, designed by architect Samuel Anderson.

The Morgan–Renzo Piano Project

In 2000, the Morgan asked the Renzo Piano Building Workshop to develop an expansive enhancement scheme that would permit the institution to better fulfill its dual role as library and museum. Renzo Piano’s diverse achievements in architecture and successful integrations of modern design into a number of old European buildings led the Morgan to select him for their task of expansion. The Morgan–Renzo Piano Project’s principal elements included:

• a state of the art collection storage facility
• new and renovated galleries
• a modern performance hall
• a new reading room
• a new entrance
• a spacious central court (the heart of the public spaces)
• and more rational internal circulation

Work began on the Morgan–Renzo Piano Project in 2003 and was completed in 2006. The project was the largest expansion in the Morgan’s history and added 75,000 square feet to the campus. The project increased exhibition spaces by more than fifty percent and added important amenities, including a 280-seat performance hall, a welcoming entrance on Madison Avenue, a new café and restaurant, and a shop. It is important to note that the majority of the construction took place underground—including the large areas of the vault and the Gilder Lehrman Hall.

My favorite architectural elements from Piano’s renovation of the Morgan are the roof structure and other “urban gestures”. Piano’s roof structure is a complex system of metal screens, shades, blinds and other light filtering devices that allow natural light in. Additionally, other “urban gestures” such as the glass interstices help set the various buildings off from one another and offer a friendly view from both inside and outside of the Morgan.


The Renzo Piano Building Workshop's project for the Morgan follows an exceptional architectural legacy. The original library which was designed by Charles McKim and opened for Pierpont Morgan's personal use a hundred years ago, is an American Renaissance icon. Of the numerous structures that once stood on the site now occupied by the Morgan, three remain: the Morgan house, the 1928 Annex, and McKim's masterpiece. Renzo Piano reckoned with these three landmarks as he brought practical and pleasing coherence to the present complex.

Works Cited:

About the Morgan | History of the Morgan. (2006). 2006: The Renzo Piano expansion and renovation. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from

The Morgan Library & Museum. (2006). The Morgan–Renzo Piano building workshop project with a brief history. In Exhibitions | current. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from

The Morgan Library & Museum. (n.d.). Welcome. [Pamphlet].

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The New York Librarians Meetup Group at the Morgan Library

The New York Librarians Meetup Group at the Morgan Library

Visit to A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy Exhibition on
Sunday January 10, 2010

Photo Courtesy of The Morgan Library and Museum – view of J.P. Morgan’s private library looking out toward the foyer

Photo of Morgan Café courtesy of The Morgan Library and Museum

Dollops of whipped cream infused hot chocolate and scoops of colorful gelato laced with mint sprigs provoked exclamations of ohs and ahs among the twenty plus Library Meetup group members who gathered Sunday, January 10 to see the Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan Library I can't tell you how welcome the sunlight cascading in the floor-to-ceiling glass windows felt as I sat in the Morgan Cafe sipping my pot of tea on a crystal clear but frosty winter day. Conversation quickly ensued as Stephanie introduced the group and told us about upcoming Library Meetup events, networking and volunteer opportunities such as helping compile the job and career resource list and co-hosting future events. Even though it’s hard to leave pleasant conversation, particularly while indulging in sweets, we finally sauntered off to see the Jane Austen (1775-1817) exhibit: A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.

Silhouette of woman reputed to be Jane Austen - courtesy of the Jane Austen Society of Australia (JASA)

By happenstance, I wended my way down the winding staircase adjacent to the café area which led to the newly created performance hall. For those of you who aren’t challenged by vertigo and wish to navigate around the Morgan, I recommend stepping into the glass elevators in the center of the atrium which provide an eye-popping view of the soaring glass windows and lead invitingly to the exhibition space. Several members of the group waited and chatted in the red cushy auditorium seats for the next showing of the two alternating short videos, one about J.P. Morgan and his collection and the other, the delightful The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen. Both films dazzled and had the same theme: passion. It’s easy to see why this financier had an eye for exquisite objects; his piercing eyes are his most prominent feature and implore us to gasp in awe at the illuminated manuscripts portrayed in brilliant color in the video. The narrator describes Morgan as a “sultan of a secret seraglio who wanted all the beautiful things in the world and assiduously acquired them. The Divine Jane video showcases the passion of several actors, authors and scholars for Austen’s work. Cornel West’s visage excitedly extols the virtues of Jane Austen’s literature. In no uncertain terms, West lets us know that her canon of works achieved Shakespearean status. I’m still haunted by West’s elegiac reminder that Austen departed this world at the age of 41. Perhaps, Colm Tóibín’s deadpan statement that he’d much rather take a Jane Austen novel to bed than a companion is the most memorable portion of the video. I embarrassingly laughed raucously at Tóibín’s exposition, but I wasn’t the only one to laugh. The visuals were likewise stunning; the creator of the film showed several of the interviewees either lovingly poring over Austen manuscripts or reading at a shadowed desk in front of a window invoking literary life circa early 1800s, Austen’s time period. For those of you who can’t make it to the Morgan before the Austen exhibit closes March 14, you can see it online:
The curators also wisely set aside a portion of the Austen exhibit area to show the film for those who bypass the performance hall viewing.

Once the movie ended, I conquered my fear of the glass elevator and glided up to the second floor Austen exhibit (with my eyes closed). The exhibit can best be described as “cozy” as it only occupies a medium sized gallery. However, the curators managed to cover Austen’s home life which included her father’s library of 500 volumes, her societal milieu, the works of her best-selling literary contemporaries and her short career within the tight gallery space. Since the Morgan holds the largest collection (51) of Austen’s correspondence out of her 161 extant letters the centerpiece of the exhibit was those letters along with her surviving manuscripts. Luckily, for tired eyes the curators only displayed a few of her letters to her sister Cassandra and relatives as the cursive writing of the day is difficult to read. The curators highlighted the contents of the letters in metal plates affixed to the glass cases protecting the precious correspondence. I particularly enjoyed one letter to her niece which summarizes the sentiment Austen expressed in many of her novels: “Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.” An ironic statement in that Austen’s novels aptly portrayed the impossibility for many women of marrying for affection in an era when most women depended on men for financial support. Indeed, my favorite part of the exhibition and unfortunately hidden against the back wall was the description of Austen’s lesser known short novel, Lady Susan. Lady Susan, an epistolary novel, paints a scathing portrait of a “gold-digger” without a heart of gold. Marilyn Butler, a scholar depicted Lady Susan as a “cruising shark in her social goldfish pond.”

Therein lies the source of Austen’s enduring popularity; those who relentlessly search for a pairing of affection are still surrounded by cruising sharks in social goldfish ponds some two hundred years after Austen graced us with Sense and Sensibility, her first published novel.

Jodi Cantor

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

recap of LIS Online Career Fair 1/12/10

LIS Online Career Fair 1/12/10 (attendance hosted by SLA-NY at Baruch’s Newman Library)

My recap:

SLA-NY Chapter generously provided group attendance (free of charge for SLA-NY members), space and food and drink for this all-day event, at Baruch. The rooms provided were comfortable and the refreshments much appreciated – thank you SLA-NY!

I attended these presentations: the Keynote address, Putting Yourself Out There (Networking), Interviewing, Continuing Professional Development, and Common Mistakes Job Hunters make. I felt this Career Fair was a disappointment overall. Most of the information was good and accurate, but I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. It wasn’t advertised as such, but I felt it was really for students and newbies/recent grads. Many of the people in F2F attendance were not new to the field but mid-career professionals; they already know what Twitter and LinkedIn are.

The length of the presentations was O.K.; under an hour each with ten minutes in between presentations. Lunch was a half hour and there was another half hour break later in the afternoon; I would have preferred a full hour for lunch. The sound quality was very poor during the Keynote; audio was lost completely for stretches of time and towards the end of the Keynote the audio was so choppy we could not understand what was being said. Audio was iffy all day, and there was also a great variation of volume for different speakers throughout the day. At least one presenter didn’t seem to understand that she’d have to speak right into the microphone in order to be heard and understood, even after being told that attendees couldn’t hear her. This was very frustrating. We in person at Baruch didn’t have trouble with the slides for each presentation, but people attending from elsewhere posted that they were having ongoing problems seeing the slides.

People were participating (via a chat box) from all over the U.S. and some of their comments and questions were…interesting. One person asked, “what is LinkedIn?” and someone else asked, “what does the ‘G’ in ‘GSLIS’ stand for?” During the presentation on Continuing Professional Development people were asking, what does “CPD” mean?! (It was the title of the presentation!) Other people asked questions like, “should I wear a suit or sweater to an interview?” and “are there libraries that have hiring freezes?” I have to wonder how these folks found themselves at this career fair and why they were attending.

Some of the advice given was, in my opinion, not sound. For example, one attendee asked via chat box (repeatedly) if he/she should mention divorce in a job interview as a reason for not completing a degree, and others asked about telling an interviewer about considerations necessary for the applicant for religious or medical reasons. The advice given was ‘yes’ to mention the divorce, religion and medical needs and I disagree strongly with that – it is not a good idea to mention any of those things in a first interview. The religious and medical needs can be addressed once a job offer has been made; the divorce should not be brought up at all. In a different workshop, people who have been laid off were advised to ‘take some time off’ from job hunting, to heal’ – unless we are talking about a very brief period of time (days at the most), that advice can really hurt a job hunter, and may serve to prolong unemployment further, unnecessarily.

Near 4:00 (about two hours before the event finished) I saw one woman putting on her coat. I asked if she was leaving. She said yes, that the career fair ‘wasn’t what she thought it was going to be’ and that the content was “thin”. I can’t put it any better than that.

Note to some of those who attended in person at Baruch: this was, among other things, an opportunity to network F2F with other professionals in the field. Like it or not, you are making an impression on the other attendees. It is probably not a good idea to

-arrive late

-dress very casually (a suit is not required; at least’ business casual’ is appropriate)

-engage in constant complaining, venting, and expressing frustration or desperation about job hunt or job prospects (including trying to scam a free resume review); this behavior can derail a job search and diminish the willingness of potential contacts to help you. Save the venting for when you are with your friends and family.

-bring a small child who whimpers and/or cries throughout workshops

-fall asleep

Those are my thoughts on this Career Fair. I would love to hear what others’ experiences were. Thanks for reading.

Ellen Mehling (Ellen M.) is a librarian/instructor/writer living and working in NYC and (among other things) regularly teaches job hunting workshops for information professionals. She is also one of the Assistant Organizers of the NY Librarians MeetUp Group.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year from Meetup HQ! - The Official Meetup HQ Blog

Happy New Year from Meetup HQ! - The Official Meetup HQ Blog 


Scott Heiferman

Please watch Scott's video on looking to the future and post ideas or comments for our group.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a fruitful decade! 

Stephanie, Organizer NYLM