Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Freeze—I’m a change agent

I had the honor of key-noting at the Southern Maine Library District‘s Spring Council meeting. Until this my contact with local librarians had been pretty meagre, so it was great to meet so many, and be received so warmly.

I’m particularly keen to do something with one of the librarians I met from Maine’s island communities. It would be great to get the small island library in, and then all the private books, so residents could search for them. Apparently island librarians are already doing some of this informally, in their heads.

I’ve been interested in “small scale” social software ever since I read Clay Shirky’s Situated Software. Small-scale social software can dodge some of the problems of large-scale varieties. So, for example, sharing books between LibraryThing members would require a complex “reputation” system to deal with bad apples. On an island with 200 people you don’t need that.

For keynoting I received a Maine Libraries mug—nice, but too slight for my super-sized coffee addiction—some chocolates—inhaled!—and the pin to the right, “Change Agent” on a sheriff’s badget.

No doubt it was either that or a round button, and the sheriff’s badge was cooler. But there’s something richly ironic in the pairing of “change agent” and a sheriff’s badge. Does change come from the sheriffs? Maybe it’s a deputy badge, or whatever you give someone in a posse.

I keep hearing variations on: “I hate my job. I have no power. But I’m going to stick it out. My supervisor is going to retire some day.”

Man, that’s gotta suck. Startups have their downs too, but that’s a kind of pain I hope to never feel again. Maybe the library world needs more villains and vigilantes. Damn the law, and string up that OPAC!

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