Archive for the ‘ala’ Category

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Come Learn PHP at ALA 2014

EnoughLogo_350

Summary: Tim, LibraryThing’s founder, is going to be giving a one-day, almost-free introduction to PHP programming on Friday, June 27, alongside the preconference day of ALA 2014 in Las Vegas, NV.

“Enough PHP to Be Dangerous” will cover the basics of PHP, the most common web programming language. It’s designed for people with little programming experience.(1)

Instruction will be project-based–a series of brief explanations followed by hands-on problem solving. You won’t emerge a PHP master, but you’ll know enough to be dangerous!(2)

We’ll presume some familiarity with the web, including basic HTML. You must bring your own laptop. We’ll ask you to set up a simple development environment before you come–we’ll send instructions. You should be connected to libraryland somehow. Prepare for a mental workout–there’s no point going slow when we only have a day.

Where? The session will be held Friday June 27, 9am-5pm at Embassy Suites Convention Center, three blocks from the Convention Center.

How do I sign up? Email tim@librarything.com. Say who you are and put “Enough PHP to Be Dangerous” in the subject line.

We’ll close applications on Monday, April 14 at 4:00 PM EST. If more than 30 people sign up, we’ll pick the winners randomly. If fewer, we’ll allow people to sign up after the deadline on a first-come-first-served basis.

What Does it Cost? On the day of we’ll pass the hat, asking $55 to cover the $45 cost of hotel-provided muffins, coffee and sandwiches, and some of the cost of the room, equipment and wifi. If $55 is a hardship for you, no problem–we’ll waive the fee, and you’ll still get a sandwich.

Why do I need this? Libraryland needs more programmers, and people who know what programming is. Libary software vendors exert outsized power and too often produce lousy software because the community has limited alternatives. The more library programmers, the better.

Why are you doing this? Conferences are hugely expensive to exhibit at. They’re worth it, but it’s a shame not to do more. If we’re going to be out there anyway, adding a day, a room and a projector doesn’t add much to the cost, and could help the community. Also, I’m a frustrated former Latin teacher, so it’ll be fun for me!(3)

Is this officially connected to ALA, LITA, Library Code Year, etc.? Nope. We’re doing this on our own. It’s easier that way. Of course, we love all these groups, especially our friends at LITA.(4)

Will the class be broadcast? No. That sounds fiddly. Maybe another time.

Want to help out? If you’re a programmer and want to help make this happen, email me. It would be great to have another programmer or two helping people figure out why their script won’t run. It’ll be fun, and you can put it on your resume.


1. If you tried to learn something years ago, or do a little cutting and pasting of JavaScript, fine. If you’re a master of another programming language, you’ll be bored.
2. We’ll focus on the most basic skills–variables, loops, functions, etc. We’ll focus on non-OO PHP. We’ll print up some funny diplomas, so you can show off your new-found dangerousness back at the library.
3. Alas, the hotel doesn’t provide chalk boards.
4. We take inspiration from Introductory Python Workshop at ALA 2013, put together by Andromeda Yelton and others.

Labels: ala, ala2014, instruction

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Heading to ALA / free exhibits-only pass

At the end of the week, Tim, Kate, and I are heading to Anaheim, CA for the American Library Association’s annual conference. We’ll be camped out at booth 1919 and at 1471 (in the “mobile pavilion”), so stop by and say hi. We have two big new enhancements to show off (stay tuned here for more details if you won’t be able to come see them in person), and a new inflatable animal (the rhino is sitting this show out). How can you resist?

Want to attend? As an exhibitor, we get to give out free “Exhibits Only” passes to ALA. So if you’re nearby and want to come, this is your chance! Click here and follow the instructions—you have to register online. The pass gets you only into the exhibit hall, not the conference sessions.

The exhibit halls open at 5:30pm on Friday the 22nd, hope to see you there!

Labels: ala, ala anaheim, giraffe, librarything for libraries, rhinos

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Visit us at ALA

Tim and I will be at ALA in New Orleans later this week, and with three different fancy badge ribbons to give out. So if your badge is feeling a little light and you want some flair, stop by!  Booth 827.

We also have a slew of improvements and features we’re adding to Library Anywhere and to the LibraryThing for Libraries enhancements–watch the blog this week for more.

Lastly, remember, we’re having a meet-up on Saturday morning for anyone in the area!  Details in this blog post.

Labels: ala

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Free exhibit-only passes for ALA in DC

Tim and I will be in DC for the American Library Association’s annual conference this weekend (rhinos in tow, as always). Booth 909.

Want a free pass? It’s to the exhibit hall only (you have to shell out if you want to get into the meetings and sessions). Follow this link to register to your free exhibit pass. And hey, if you get in free because of us, we expect you to stop by and say hello!

We’ve got lots to show off—our OPAC enhancements (tags, reviews, recommendations, related editions, shelf browse) as well as our new mobile product, Library Anywhere.  More on what’s new later this week.

UPDATED. The link should now work!

Labels: ala, ALA2010

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

LibraryThing at ALA Midwinter


We’re at ALA Midwinter in Boston this weekend—come by and talk to us! We’re in booth 1208 (look for the rhinos).

We’ll be showing off LibraryThing for Libraries—reviews, tags, recommendations and some big new features.

New features

  • Shelf Browse for your OPAC. It shows your covers on a virtual “shelf” for browsing—just as you would do in the physical library. Shelf Browse lets you see where a book sits on your actual shelves, and what’s near it.
  • Library Anywhere: A mobile catalog for everyone. Library Anywhere gives you a web version of your OPAC optimized for cell phones, as well as native applications for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. It requires no installation, and will be cheap.
  • Scoping for Consortia. LTFL now has improved consortium support which allows for “scoping”—patrons searching within a scoped location will only see, for example, LTFL recommending books that are held at that location.

This is just a quick overview, we’ll blog each of these in much more depth in a few days, stay tuned for more details and screenshots. Or just stop by the booth and we’ll show everything to you in action.

Party
Saturday after the show, come have some baked brie and talk books and libraries with us.

  • Saturday the 16th, 5:30-8pm at The Green Dragon Tavern.

Appetizers, drinks, and good conversation. Details in this blog post. We’ll also have little cards with directions at the booth.

Free exhibit passes
If you just want to go to the exhibit hall (no sessions), you can get a free pass here.

Labels: ala, ALAmw2010, librarything for libraries, ltfl

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Open Shelves Classification: First draft live and at ALA Midwinter

If you’re at ALA Midwinter in Denver on Saturday, come talk about this interesting new project. See below for details.

Back in July I blogged to start something called the Open Shelves Classification, a free, crowdsourced alternative to the Dewey Decimal System, and created a Group for it. Soon afterward two librarians, Laena M. McCarthy of the Pratt Institute and David Conners of Haverford took over leadership of the project. For the past six months they and a growing contingent of LibraryThing members, some librarians, some not, have been working to come up with basic principles and working on pieces and on the numbering system. They’ve also done some interesting work testing the proposed top level against real library records. Much of their work is collected on the Open Shelves Classification Wiki. Laena did a nice post on the OSC on the Public Libary Association blog.

The OSC team has reached some agreement on a first drag of the “top level categories,” some fifty categories that, it is hoped, all books fit into somewhere. And you are invited to help classify works in LibraryThing!

Want to help? Go to a work page in LibraryThing and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll find a chart of the top-level categories. If you see a good match, click on it. You’ll be prompted to say whether you know the book yourself or not. And then you’ll get to see how your classification vote match up with anyone else on the site.

You can classify anything in LibraryThing. If you want to help the most, however, click the “Find a random work” link here or below the classification chart. It’ll take you to a random work, but also contrive to get multiple members classifying the same works. The idea is that it’ll give us a good idea what categories are easy and obvious, and which are causing doubt.

Whatever you find, come and talk about it on the Open Shelves Classification group.

In Denver on Saturday? Laena and David are going to be at the ALA Midwinter show in Denver this weekend. (So are Sonya, Casey and I.) To move the OSC along we reserved a conference room at the Courtyard Marriott (Google Maps) from 1-3pm on Saturday, January 24th. Anyone at ALA is invited to come, as indeed are regular LibraryThing members–the Courtyard is outside the velvet rope.

Labels: ala, ALA midwinter, alamw2009, Open Shelves Classification, OSC

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The Future of Cataloging at ALA

If you’re at ALA in Anaheim, have nothing to do Sunday morning and are interested in the future of cataloging—and who isn’t?—you might be interested in the following panel:

ALA Annual Conference
Sunday, June 29, 2008 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Anaheim Convention Center, Rm. 204B

The panelist include Roy Tennant, Jennifer Bowen, Martha Yee, Diane Hillmann—and (gulp) me!

The moderator, Robert Wolven of Columbia*, is promising to keep it snappy, with brief presentations and oodles of time to discuss the big issues.

I don’t know all the panelists, but I know we include some very different visions of the future. There may be fireworks! (I won’t be attacking OCLC as much as I otherwise might. Roy could disarm Rambo.)

My mini-presentation is titled “UGC: The Next Sharp Stick?” UGC is, of course, User Generated Content. And the “Next Sharp Stick? is a reference to John Hodgman’s humorous one-act play “Fire: The Next Sharp Stick?” The play ends with the fire-promoting caveman being killed, of course.

What can I say? They didn’t ask me on to be conservative straight-man.


*No “primary link” I can find, but see this for starters.

Labels: ala, ala anaheim, ala2008, cataloging

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

LTFL at 33 34 36 / Abby and Tim at ALA

Casey has just updated our list of LibraryThing for Libraries customers. We’ve hit 33 libraries, which is wonderful. (See the full list.) With no sales force and only half a developer, that’s fantastic. LTFL is clearly starting to matter in the library world. We will be adding resources to it accordingly, and look forward to finding out more about what current and potential libraries want from it.

Not coincidentally, Abby and I are going to ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia. We didn’t buy a booth; they’ve expensive and tie you down a lot. Instead, we’ll be going to as many talks as we can, meeting with people and describing cheesesteaks as a “business expense.” If you’re at ALA and want to chat in passing or over a beer, let us know.

Contact details:
tim@librarything
abigail@librarything.com
cell: 207 272-0553 (note area code 207, not 208, as first posted!)

UPDATE: Thirty-FOUR. As Casey whooped: “I totally outsold Jesus” (source). Then Casey dropped dead.
UPDATE 2: Thirty six. Holy smokes.

Labels: ala, ALA midwinter, librarything for libraries, ltfl, ltfl libraries

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Libraries as Conversations: Gorman, Hives and Catalogs


This is a disturbing ad.

This was my introduction to a twenty-minute talk on social cataloging and LibraryThing given at an ALA RUSA MARS (gesundheit!) session called “Harnessing the Hive: Social Networks and Libaries,” with Meredith Farkas and Matthew Bejune. The meat of the talk—showing and talking about tags on LibraryThing—got all the attention (one blogger called it “jaw-dropping”). The introduction didn’t, despite attacking a former ALA president and being something of a rant. Comments appreciated!

Gorman and Knowledge. Former ALA President Michael Gorman wrote a piece recently for the Britannica blog titled “Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason.” He takes a curious starting point.

“Human beings learn, essentially, in only two ways. They learn from experience—the oldest and earliest type of learning—and they learn from people who know more than they do.”

There is something attractive about this conception. Some people have experiences, and they pass it on, directly or through writing. Knowledge happens. We get it one way or the other.

But this has never been quite right. Learning and knowledge, at least important learning and knowledge, are a conversation.*

The education of scholar is an ascent through this conversation. We start with encyclopedias and straightforward books of facts—books that talk at us; certain books. We move to monographs, which seem at first like books of facts, but which we soon learn are really “arguments.” We learn to write papers that are arguments too—”Don’t just say what you know, have a thesis!”

At some point we discover academic journals, and our eyes are opened to just how complex and contentious and uncertain this certain thing is. And, if we go on long enough, we graduate to conferences, and we learn that knowledge is an actual conversation, with alcohol.

Conversations work because, at their best, they know more and produce more than their members. They work because the knowledge is in the conversation. It happens in the very interplay of ideas—asserting, contesting, extending, simplifying and complexifying the dizzying whirl of fact and opinion, creative and synthetic, smart and dumb, right and wrong, from this angle and that. Literature works like this too, but can be even more meaningless without “conversational” context—genre, alusion and immitation and so forth.

So, quiet or not, the library is a buzzing cocktail party—better and better the more people are there and the more they interact. It is already “hive” this session promises. It is, in point of fact, very much like the web.

I think Gorman is wrong. But there is a lot of productive debate to be had about what digitization, mass amateurization and similar trends “do” to knowledge. There are downsides and reasons for concern. But we should not forget that the greatest thing the library has to offer—has ever had to offer—is not the relative fixity and contested reliability some now stridently set against the web, but the bubbling river of conversation it embraces.

To go back to the beginning, Timon of Phlius mocked the “many cloistered bookworms twittering in the bird-cage of the muses.” And he had a point. But today we rather admire the Library of Alexandria, with all its damned twittering.**

The catalog as conversation. If the contents of the library is a conversation, the online catalog is not. It is, at best, a tool to get you to the conversation. Is this the way it has to be? Can the catalog be a conversation too?

When I was a graduate student, I did not usually figure out what books to read in Classics by looking through the Library of Congress Subject Headings or going to the shelf and poking around. I got them from fellow graduate students, professors and from the books, reviews and articles I was reading.*** (Like many graduate students I occasionally read a book’s footnotes looking for interesting reading suggestions and SKIPPED the text!) But I did—and do—check out the subjects and the shelf order for topics I know less about.

I think that, in finding books, we ascend through a conversation. The library catalog is too often an encyclopedia, talking at you. It’s useful in the first staged of discovery. But as we ascend through a topic we gravitate to more conversational forms of discovery—reviews, articles, footnotes, bibliographies and the recommendations of others. And, I think, we leave the catalog behind. For some things, like finding new fiction, almost everyone skips the catalog right off, and reads reviews and talks to friends.

LibraryThing is called “social cataloging”—one small step toward the catalog as conversation. Let me show you what I mean….


*I’m channeling David Weinberger in much of this. Indeed, if there is one thing that irks me about his Everything is Miscellaneous it is the sense that “swimming in the complex” is new. Digitization has kicked things up a notch—made us more aware of the arbitrariness of categorization, the necessity of thinking for yourself and the value of conversations—but these are old lessons.

**I’ve removed the end of his quote, which hits the poets and scholars of the Museum—a sort of branch of the library—for getting paid. Still, the Library of Alexandria didn’t merely gather Greek knowledge and art together. It kicked off the fanastically allusive—that is, conversational—creature known as Hellenistic Poetry. Suddenly, the books were all together and they started jabbering at each other non-stop!

Since we’re on the topic, it also deserves mentioning that the Hellenistic Age saw a shocking increase in the quantity of *bad* writing. The barriers were lowered, and a lot of junk got through. In general, the good stuff rose and the bad stuff sank. The blogosphere anyone?

***I particularly recall how one of my professors tended never to know the *titles* of books she’d recommended to me. She’d say “that new book on Athenian demes by so-and-so.” The authors were all colleagues and friends of hers. She had followed them for years. She was completely in the conversation, and it was about people and ideas, not book titles. It didn’t help that the titles in academics are often bland affairs, “aiming higher” than their obscure topic in the hope of appealing to a broader audience—”Art, Difference and Culture” subtitled, “16th-century non-guild stonemasons in Malta,” etc.

Labels: ala, ala2007, libraries, michael gorman, rusa mars, weinberger