On September 1st, I decided to take a Facebook Sabbatical. Basically, I needed a break but also, as Facebook became more and more ingrained in my day to day life, I wanted to challenge myself. One month away from Facebook. How hard could that be?
Well, the first two weeks were strange and to be frank, off-putting. I found myself in a stage of weird denial, consistently trying to check my Facebook account without even realizing it. I would open a tab in my browser, start typing Facebook, and then stare blankly at the landing page, only to realize what I had done. Or I would wake up my phone or iPad from sleep mode, and again, stare blankly - realizing I was attempting to open the Facebook app that I had deleted when I decided to take the sabbatical in the first place.
This stage lasted for about two weeks. As time went by, the absent-minded attempts to check my account went away. And what came was....well...bliss.
I felt focused. I started writing letters to my friends and family. I called my mom and dad to talk instead of just writing on their Facebook walls. I read more; did more yoga. I know this sounds ridiculous but it is 100% true. I actually gained back time.
My biggest worry was that because of leaving Facebook, I would feel disconnected. But between Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, I still felt as connected as ever. If anything, I felt less anxiety about having to check something or worrying about how to answer an awkward or negative interaction. I felt peaceful....until my sabbatical was nearing its end.
With about a week to go, I started getting anxious. I had dreams...DREAMS about checking my Facebook account. And I realized immediately that I needed more time away. So on October 1st, I logged in and deactivated my account completely. The nice thing about Facebook is that the company makes it VERY easy to deactiviate your account. They keep all your content, all your friends, all your pictures and likes. They save your account and tell you that when you're ready to come back, everything will be there waiting for you - as if you never left. In fact, it's difficult to permanently delete your Facebook account. Instead of clicking a button, you have to contact them directly.
After deactivating, I had about a week or two of feeling guilty. Yes, guilty. Was I being selfish by not being on Facebook? And even now, I occasionally feel like I might be missing something. But I'm starting to realize that this feeling of guilt is silly. I'm really happy not being on Facebook.
Yes, my website has lower stats. And yes, sometimes I learn about a news item or meme later than other people. But I have come to a sort of peace about that. And looking back, I'm wondering how I ever became so dependent on a social network for gratification, entertainment, and happiness.
My friend, Julie, asked me about why I think people need Facebook Sabbaticals but not Twitter or Tumblr or Pinterest. And I'm not sure I have the exact answer to that, even after a month and a half away from the network. But here's my best shot - there is a sort of highschool-ish social pressure that exists on Facebook but not elsewhere. I think, in some ways, it brings out the same anxious, awkward, and even bullying tendencies that we had in our teenage years. Maybe it's because we become "friends" again with old friends or maybe it's because Facebook is a relatively small group of people all smashed into a relatively small location when you consider the vastness of the entire Internet.
All I know is this - right now, I am truly enjoying my time away from Facebook. Things feel...slower. I am enjoying every second of that.
If you are interested in taking a Facebook break too, I HIGHLY suggest reading Baratunde Thursten's article on unplugging. He was my initial inspiration and he provides a road map for the action: http://bit.ly/1d72jqO
Will I go back? Maybe. I actually haven't decided yet. But for now, I'm working at a new job. Presenting like a mad woman. And trying to enjoy life as it comes.
When I first found out I would be doing a three hour presentation for the Small Public Library Management Institute (SPLMI) on technology in libraries with Richard Kong and Toby Greenwalt, I thought two things. One: this is going to be awesome. Great friends. Great topic. We are going to rock this. And two: THREE HOURS?! OMG THAT IS SO LONG! HOW AM I GOING TO TALK THAT LONG?
And yes, I do think in all caps sometimes.
Yet as we prepared and started building our presentation, which we now lovingly refer to as The Beast, we all realized that the topic is so vast and three hours is probably going to go by in the blink of an eye.
This topic is no longer just a talk about website management. This encompasses soooooooo much more these days - from social networks and eBooks to digital media labs and makerspaces, we had a lot of ground to cover. So on Wednesday, our time went quickly and we decided to blog on the topics that we couldn't cover in the presentation.
If you follow along with the slides, I will be writing about building a tech friendly organization, which begins on slide #158.
Experiential models, such as Learning 2.0, show that people learn best when given the opportunity to learn things on their own terms. Later this year, we will see a resurgence of this with Michael Stephens' MOOC project.
In a similar way, Northbrook Public Library implemented a Summer of Learning in 2012. Librarians and staff members who were passionate about certain types of technology taught classes on their favorite topics, such as Foursquare or Pinterest. By making it an event and finding people who are already truly excited about their topics, we were able to drive enthusiasm for learning about these technologies.
On slide #168, you can see Toby, Richard, and I collaborating on this presentation. As we continually failed to find a time when all three of our schedules would allow us to meet in person, we decided to meet online instead. Using Google Drive, we were able to meet remotely, often between the hours of 9pm and midnight - the only time all three of us were available - and worked collaboratively to build our presentation.
Thank you so much to everyone at SPLMI, the Illinois State Library, and of course, to the library directors in the audience. It was truly a pleasure.
Check out both Richard's and Toby's posts for more on this presentation.
Recently Amazon announced that they are purchasing the social reading website, Goodreads. In case you missed it, the press release can be read, here.
Goodreads is a website that I actively use and love. As a readers' advisor, it is my go-to resource for keeping lists of recommendations, while also organizing my personal reading. However, my relationship with Amazon is a bit...rocky might be a good word to describe it. So when I found out about the purchase, I was not only shocked but disappointed.
While I do not fault the creators of Goodreads for wanting to make money off of their product, I do have several concerns, first of which is a privacy issue. I worry about the collection of reader data, when Amazon already collects so much from the public. Amazon has no reason to keep any of our reading information private from any institution requesting it, and we know for a fact that they use this collected data in many ways - probably many that I cannot even imagine. As another blogger so eloquently put the issue,
I can’t think of anything nastier right now in the book world than the prospect of this behemoth acquiring even more intimate knowledge of my buying habits than it already has. Enough is enough.
And more importantly, I worry a great deal about what I see as a monopolization of reading resources on the internet. You can read more about my opinions on the matter in this Library Journal piece about librarians considering a switch from Goodreads, written by Molly McArdle. Read it, here.
As I told Molly, I am looking at alternate options to Goodreads. At the moment, LibraryThing is still independent, although Amazon is a stake-holder in the company. Exactly how much of a stake-holder is unknown but according to a post by LibraryThing owner/creator, Tim Spalding, it is under 40%. To add more than 200 books to a LibraryThing account, you pay a small fee, but the company is offering free accounts until this Friday. If you're also considering the switch, read more about this offer, here.
Will Amazon look at Librarything for its next purchase? It certainly seems possible. But until then, my online book organization business is moving. Sorry, Goodreads. It was great while it lasted.
There is a new tumblr in town and I'm in love with the concept. It is called Thank You, Librarian, a creation of the librarians Valerie Forrestal and Emily Clasper. This tumblr is a platform to thank librarians who...well...need thanking because they inspired or helped you in some way.
Check out my contribution - a thank you to Dr. Michael Stephens, my very first professor in library school and mentor.
While it may not be a banana slicer, it comes from the heart. And it feels good to thank one of the people who helped me so much.
Now it is your turn. Who can you thank? Check out the tumblr, Thank You, Librarian for details.
Yesterday I presented on social media, libraries, and librarians for the staff of the Prospect Heights Public Library District. This is my third time giving a version of this talk - first to the staff at Northwestern University Library, and then to the staff of Wauconda Area Library - and it's been absolutely fascinating to see how each talk takes a slightly different turn.
We often think that because most of our libraries have Facebook pages, this topic is worn out. We all know how to post a link to Facebook now, right? I actually struggled when I first created the presentation because I wasn't sure if this territory was...well...trite. Yet each time I give the talk, I feel even more strongly in the importance of continuing this conversation. Just because we're all on social networks doesn't mean we don't have a lot to learn from each other about optimizing our institutional accounts and managing our own personal accounts while maintaining a level of professionalism.
I learn a great deal every time I talk to people about social networks and librarians. My theory is that because library workers don't tend to "turn off" at the end of the day, our social media presence is completely intertwined with our careers. And this is both an awesome and precarious situation. On the awesome side, it makes our social networks a perfect place for collaboration and crowd sourcing ideas. On the precarious side, it directly ties our opinions to our work life. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - as anyone knows who follows me on Twitter or reads some of my articles, I'm full of opinions. But it certainly is a delicate thing and one that I think we all learn from every time we tap the word, "Tweet".
So while I present on the topic and seriously enjoy doing so, I'm also still learning. And I suppose that's the best thing about speaking professionally - there's just so much out there to take in. Thank you for the recent opportunity, Prospect Heights Library. It is always a pleasure.
If you're interested in having me speak for your staff day, please contact me. You can view the latest incarnation of my talk about libraries, librarians, and social media on Slideshare here.
First, thank you to everyone who submitted a chapter proposal for the Library Innovation Cookbook. We will be contacting people throughout December. Both Dr. Molaro and I truly appreciate all the time, thought, and work put into every single submission. I wish we could take them all!
Also I had such a blast presenting at the Wauconda Area Library's staff day this past Friday. It was my first time in both the city and the library, and I have to say, it is such a lovely area. The downtown is beautiful with lots of little shops and restaurants, and of course, the library itself is gorgeous! Their patrons must be very proud. And to top it off, the staff at WAL was enthusiastic and hilarious. They were a wonderful crowd.
My presentation was on the intersection between the personal and professional on social media for both library workers and institutions. It is called Libraries, Librarians, and Social Media. You can view it on slideshare here:
If you are interested in having me present on this, or any other topic, at your library, just click on the "Contact Me" link on the left hand side of the page.
Again, thank you to all the librarians who submitted to the book, and have a wonderful holiday!
At the Northbrook Public Library, we use a Social Media Committee to run our various social network presences. This is a relatively new committee for the library, and we decided it would help a great deal because with social media, you really have to be posting and responding frequently and constantly.
Everyone on the committee has different things they are in charge of - I tend to be most involved in the library's Twitter and Foursquare accounts, for example. But we all contribute and try to brainstorm new and awesome ways to get the library more social.
At our most recent meeting, the chair of our committee and my partner in crime, Gwyn Stupar, invited the person in charge of the Northbrook Parks District's social networks to our meeting and WOW was it useful! He has a MBA and specialized in digital marketing. It's amazing how much you can learn from someone outside of the library field! First, the Northbrook Parks Department does great social networking stuff. Check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Here are a few of my favorite things he passed on to us:
There was SO much to learn. This just goes to show that we can learn a great deal from people who might be in our communities but aren't in the library. Look outside the walls of the library! And get social!