Category Archives: Uncategorized

The inimitable Sonia Sotomayor

logo_808707_printBy: Rebekah Cummings, Assistant Director–Mountain West Digital Library

Last week, Sonia Sotomayor spoke to a sold out crowd at the University of Utah about her life, her work as a United State Supreme Court Justice, and her new memoir, “My Beloved World.” The format for the event was a Q and A session between Justice Sotomayor and Christine Durham, Utah’s first female Supreme Court justice, who served as a moderator for the event. Rather than stay on the dais with Justice Durham, however, Justice Sotomayor wandered through the crowd answering questions, taking pictures with children, and speaking eloquently on topics such as books, art, childhood, and feeling like an outsider.


What does this have to do with Creative Libraries Utah, you ask? Through most of the Q and A — and likely in her memoir as well — Justice Sotomayor spoke incessantly of books. Growing up poor in the Bronx to Puerto-Rican born parents, books for Sotomayor were a pathway to a different world. She read voraciously as a child and credits her desire to be a lawyer — and drive a hot rod — to Nancy Drew. Sotomayor spoke lovingly of her neighborhood library in the Bronx, which seemed miraculous to her as a child. Books? For free? Yes, please! For librarians this story is a tale as old as time and always reinforces the importance of libraries, especially for children with limited opportunities to secure books elsewhere.

At one point in the session, however, Sotomayor said something that knocked me off my high horse. She said that in all those weekly trips to the library throughout all those years of her childhood, she never had any idea what librarians did besides check out books. They never took any interest in her. Huh, what? How could any librarian not take an interest in a precocious little girl who consumed books like Hummers consume gasoline? What an incredible missed opportunity to impact the life of a woman who would go on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. To be sure, Sotomayor still has incredibly fond memories of her library, but how much fonder would those memories have been had they included a librarian who helped her select literature, enlisted her to be a volunteer in summer reading programs, or helped her with her college applications?

Perhaps I’ve gotten used to people waxing poetic about their childhood experiences with librarians. I love passages like this one from Neil Gaiman that extoll the virtues of librarianship:

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old. (Neil Gaiman, Why our future depends on libraries, reading, and daydreaming) 

This is the kind of passage that makes me proud to be a librarian. In contrast, when I heard Justice Sotomayor say that she didn’t know what the librarians at her library did, I felt like, as a profession, we had failed her. No matter how many amazing books she was supplied, she still was not served.

Which got me thinking. What would we want our patrons to say about their libraries in front of a sold-out crowd at the University of Utah? Would we want them to merely look back fondly on the place they got books as a child? Or would we want them to talk about the librarian who impacted their life? In my beloved world, it would be both.

Getcher Classic Video Games Heah


Internet Archive is one of my favorite resources to introduce to my library instruction classes for video, images, music, audio, and text sources. The newest library on the site is called the Internet Arcade, which includes a TON of coin-operated video games from the 70s through the 90s. And you can play these right from your browser.

The Internet Archive has also started collecting and distributing other vintage games. Just last week, they unveiled a new collection of classic PC games. Using DOSBox, you can download DOS-based games, or you can use a Windows Virtual Machine app to play on your computer. And if you’re into old-school console games, you should check out the Console Living Room.

Let the games begin!

By: Adriana Parker, University of Utah Marriott Library

#IAmCharlieAndNotCharlie… and that’s the whole point

Image courtesy of DPLA

As notorious defenders of free speech, librarians have a particular interest in — and likely strong opinions about — the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo editors, journalists, and cartoonists. While no one denies the tragic nature of the event and we collectively mourns the loss of human life, there seems to be some division in the response to Wednesday’s attack. As soon as #IAmCharlie began populating my Facebook and Twitter feed, a vocal minority of #IAmNotCharlie cropped up with equal force.

One article in implored all journalists to publish the full and uncensored version of the Charlie Hebdo “La vie de Mahomet” cartoon as an act of solidarity and public support for the journalists who gave their lives for intellectual freedom. To not do so, the article claimed, would be an insult to their memory. (#IAmCharlie)  Others have been quick to say “I Am Not Charlie Hebdo” because they don’t align themselves with what could be considered a culturally insensitive and even racist publication. (#IAmNotCharlie) To complicate matters further, some claim that it’s hypocritical to stand in support of Charlie Hebdo or donate money to keep the magazine afloat if those same supporters would have decried Charlie Hebdo as a “communist rag” a week prior. (#YouAreNotCharlie – okay, I made that hashtag up.)

As librarians we have a sensitivity to free speech that, I think, goes beyond that of the general population. In our Code of Ethics we claim to “Uphold the principles of free speech and resist all efforts to censor.” We have Banned Book week. We regularly order and promote books in the library that we may find to be personally abhorrent. We know from personal experience that censorship does not work, and that it rarely has the effect for which the censor hopes. Want to make sure something is a best seller? Censor it! (see: the Streisand Effect)

We also know this. Freedom of speech has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not we agree with the content, like it, or find it culturally significant.

“You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.” – The American President (1995)

I was not familiar with Charlie Hebdo before it made headlines this week. It’s impossible to say whether or not I would have “liked” it now that my perception has been colored by recent events. I doubt I would have called it a “commie rag” but I may have thought it sophomoric or culturally insensitive. But that has no bearing on my desire to defend the rights of journalists to speak their mind and let the public decide whether or not their ideas hold value. Satire does not have to be “good” to be defended.

What is okay:

1. Saying #IAmCharlie to support free speech and pay tribute to the senseless killings in France.

2. Saying #IAmNotCharlie because you consider Charlie Hebdo hate speech or culturally insensitive while still acknowledging the right of Charlie Hebdo’s staff to produce speech with which you disagree.

What is not okay:

1. Opposing freedom of speech. Any speech.

2. Taking violent action to curb speech with which you disagree.

It’s okay to say I Am Charlie Hebdo. It’s okay to say I Am Not Charlie Hebdo. I think that’s kind of the point.

By: Rebekah Cummings, Assistant Director, Mountain West Digital Library

(Editor’s note: Rebekah is the newest member of the Creative Libraries Utah team and we look forward to hearing much more from her in the future.)

Not what we believe, but a great image nonetheless (Image courtesy of DPLA).

That Special Time of Year

logo_808707_print“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”  –George Eliot

Are you ready for the obligatory goals and resolutions?  Have you already set goals and given up on them?  It is the sixth of January, so about 50% of all resolutions have already been abandoned (statistics provided by Brian Fantana).  I could pretend that I hate it, but I don’t.  It really is my favorite time of year.  It might be because my brain is broken and restarts with the sound of Windows each morning, but it is probably just that I am unbelievably susceptible to advertising.  “I get a restart every January, are you kidding me, of course I want to lose weight, Weight Watchers!” (Me watching TV two weeks ago, and yes, I do talk to the TV.)

I’m not stupid though, I know that we enter the New Year with baggage from decisions already made, but we also have made it culturally acceptable to make big improvements in our lives each and every January.  We can take advantage of this social norm both professionally and personally.  I set goals every year—honestly I set goals every week and am now trying to set goals every day—and I’m a much better person when I am goal setting. I also wanted to know what others do, so I reached out surreptitiously and got a few replies.

“Pretend it’s a year from now and you’re feeling good about three things you did in 2015 that made a difference.  What are those three things?” –Peter Bromberg

“With at least one goal, I like to keep in mind something that brings joy to the job—either for you or library patrons.” –Crystal Hansen

“Always include a stretch goal.  One that scares you just a bit.” –Trish Hull

“…I’ve found that the most helpful goals were the ones that I set to motivate me to do the parts of my job I don’t like.” –Kjerste Christensen

All great thoughts that can help us set goals, but I want to focus on Peter’s method here for a moment.  Peter’s method is similar to the one that I have been using the last few years.  I use an Action Day Planner and the front of the planner helps you articulate your goals for the coming year.  You answer a few questions and write statements of affirmation.  One of my goals this year went as follows:

What do you want to do this year?  I want to fully integrate myself at the Utah Valley University Library and contribute to a healthy work dynamic.

Why do you want to do this?  So that I might enjoy work and contribute to the success of others’.

How will you achieve this?  Through task orientation, initiative, and helping colleagues and patrons fulfill their needs.

When Peter said imagine where you are in a year that is exactly where I wanted to be.  I do not want to be the new librarian at UVU forever, I want to be an integrated and productive member of this team and institution.  Knowing where I wanted to be in a year helped me understand my values and set a broad goal.  Now I will have to set lots of small goals that help me achieve this goal throughout the year. Self-awareness and mindfulness are paramount for goal setting.  Before you ever set a goal, you must contemplate your values and needs.  Your values should drive your goals and help you get to the places you imagine.

My Action Day Planner says that “research shows that 97% of people have not set any goals.  Among the reasons are fear, lack of encouragement, and lack of know-how.  But if we set goals, there is a lot to offer because goals draw out the best in us and show us the right path.”

You might happen to get to where you want to be by next December, but I can promise you this, you are much more likely to get there if you actually know where you want to be.  Setting goals will help you articulate where you want to be and provide you the opportunity to specify the steps to get there.

Set some goals!  Real goals that are written down somewhere and lead to many small goals!  I’ll leave you with one of those awesome motivational posters that no one has ever laughed at ever.

By: Dustin Fife, UVU Librarian and ULA President-Elect

Jessica’s Rules for Work

by Jessica Breiman

It has been a long week at work and thus I have failed at posting to Innovation Action Update like I was supposed to! I wrote a draft of a long post about homeless populations and libraries, but never quite finished it up (you know how that goes, right?). So here are a few thoughts for your Friday afternoon, catalyzed by my week at work, and some conversations with colleagues.  They are Jessica’s Rules for Work and are based entirely on my own strengths and weaknesses, which may not be your strengths and weaknesses, but nevertheless may get you thinking about the topic.

  1. Be kind. It is just as easy to be kind as to not be kind, so even if you are annoyed, frustrated, and pissed off (and even if you have every right to be), still be kind.
  2. Do take a deep breath but don’t take it personally. By which I mean, when I feel put upon or pissed off about a situation at work, I hereby instruct myself to take a deep breath and remind myself that work is not me. What happens at work does not define me, so I shouldn’t take it personally when things don’t go my way.
  3. Be honest. This does not mean brutally honest (a phrase which has never made sense to me), but be honest with colleagues, supervisors, employees, and patrons. Will my supervisor get this project from me in its best form at 8am on Monday? If not, then instead of promising it to them, I should say, “I can have a draft ready for you Monday. If I have a few more days, the project will be in better shape when it reaches you.”
  4. Do not expect honesty. By which I mean, people often spread themselves too thin and overpromise. If someone guarantees that they will have something to me by Monday and I don’t have it by Monday, I can throw a fit and be pissed at the person for not telling me the truth, or I can say, “Look, I know you have a lot on your plate. I have to your part of this project by X date. If I can’t get it by then, I will need to ask someone else to provide it for me. Can you get it to me or do you have too much on your plate right now?” That said, sometimes people are not honest for a variety of reasons, some political, some emotional, some other miscellaneous. Do not expect too much of people.
  5. Keep your mouth shut. If you’re feeling whiny or put upon or unfairly treated, it is best to lay those troubles on folks outside of work. It’s better if your coworkers and supervisors don’t know what you look like when you’re pitching a snit fit.
  6. What is told to me stays with me.
  7. Give and get help. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and the corollary to that is not to be afraid to say “I don’t know. Can you help me?”
  8. Ask for what you want and be assertive. But also be prepared with evidence and documentation that you need what you need.
  9. The corollary of #8 is: don’t get attached to outcomes.
  10. Volunteer for stuff. Nobody has time for these committees. I certainly don’t and you probably don’t either. But you know what? Sometimes you get to meet cool folks and learn something new. Sometimes the work is deadly boring, but at least I can socialize with others outside of my department, which can lead to other fruitful collaborations.
  11. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t go your way. Go have a glass of wine and hang out with your fluffy puppy. Lou2

Lame Duck

logo_808707_printSigh.  Today there was an opportunity for individual privacy and civil liberties to be disentangled from the government’s bulk data collection through the NSA.  There was also an opportunity for surveillance reform and greater transparency for the whole process.  Sigh.

A bipartisan bill titled, The USA Freedom Act of 2014 (full bill here), went to the Senate floor for a vote (Tuesday, November 18th).  This bill did not renew the entirety of the Patriot Act, but did extend the ‘lone wolf‘ provision, the ‘roving wire tap‘ provision, and a reformed Section 215 — commonly referred to as the ‘library provision’ (remember FISA orders and national security letters, that was so 2005, right?!)  The American Library Association, along with other advocacy groups and companies, have urged the Senate to pass this bill and yesterday, ALA asked us, as librarians, to act!

The bill only needed 60 Senators to vote YEA……..the result: 58 voted YEA.  JUST 2 VOTES shy!  (Read why.)  Now, the Senate has the remainder of the current legislative session to pass the USA Freedom Act.  We can still press our representatives!

Local, National, and World Affairs matter; they effect policies and policies effect our lives and our profession.  Libraries assert that they facilitate informed and engaged citizenry.  If this is our core, then librarians should be modeling this behavior in their community.  Informed and Engaged Librarian; now, I’d wear that button!

How to stay informed via ALA:

ALA Legislative Action Center

ALA’s Washington Office Blog

Choose Privacy  ….  If anything, watch Glenn Green’s Ted Talk on Why Privacy Matters.

By: Tegan Davis | Eagle Valley Library District | PR Librarian


logo_808707_print “An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.” –President Obama

The merits of Net Neutrality are being debated throughout America right now (Net Neutrality is being both heralded and demonized). It is important that we take notice as librarians, and make our voices heard as citizens and information professionals. This issue affects each of us personally and professionally. President Obama has made a strong statement urging the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband services as a utility that should have universal access and protection, just like telephone lines.

The key to this, is to stop service providers from charging twice for the same services. They want to charge both content consumers and content creators for the same service, charges that inevitably filter back to the content consumers. Reclassification would stop service providers from BLOCKING, THROTTLING, and PRIORITIZING information as they see fit. There are many sides to this conversation, so it is essential that our voices be heard. The Utah Library Association will be drafting a letter to our Representatives and Senators soon, in hopes of representing our profession and the communities that we serve.

“The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet.” –President Obama

President Obama’s Statement

By: Dustin Fife, Utah Library Association President-Elect

Using a Library Impact Map to Guide and Assess Strategic Planning

Holt Zaugg, Assessment Librarian for the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, was generous enough to share his knowledge on Library Impact Maps (LIM) and strategic planning. I personally thank him for allowing the dissemination of this map.

The colorful map displays an assessment of the Harold B. Lee Library. Here is a downloadable version of the map: FULL

The original map source is from Megan Oakleaf’s “Academic Library Value: Impact Starter Kit.” Here is the Excel file from BYU: LIM_BYU_Template

This map was discussed at the following event:

“From Statistics to Story: Making Your Numbers Meaningful”
Professional Development Retreat 2014 | Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC)
Friday, August 15th, 2014

My biggest takeaway from this Impact Map study was the gray area: CB=There “could be” an impact if we did something better or differently. From looking at the map, you can see that the gray area is largely portioned in the middle of the map. From that, discussions were had involving ways librarians could collaborate to do things better and differently for the betterment of libraries and library services.

Here is a blank version of the map, in which libraries can benefit by assessing impacts in their library environments. BLANK 2

By: Kristen Stehel, State Data Coordinator, Utah State Library

On Finding Your Inspiration

By: Jessica Breiman, University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library

logo_808707_printIf you are like me, sometimes your job is not always the most fulfilling. You might feel stunted, bored, or outright frustrated by work obligations. Maybe the job isn’t fulfilling enough, maybe navigating the bureaucracy gets you down, maybe you get frustrated by the clash of personalities and competing demands of other librarians. Maybe it isn’t the job really at all; sometimes adult working life is not very exciting in itself, amirite?

Whatever your frustration, it’s important to find sources of inspiration for yourself. Sources of inspiration can be books, people, projects, professional education, conferences, or any combination of the above.

Working in libraries, there are sources of inspiration on the shelves all around us. One that I recently read is Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie. MacKenzie is a retired Hallmark Greeting Card executive. Having served in a variety of positions, including as a greeting card designer, in a corporation that should reward and prize creativity, yet still gets bogged down in the minutiae of policies, meetings, and general bureaucracy, MacKenzie has years of insight into orbiting the corporate monster (or hairball) yet not getting sucked into its inner, entangled core.

MacKenzie (1998) writes, “Every new policy is another hair for the Hairball. Hairs are never taken away, only added. Even frequent reorganizations have failed to remove hairs (people, sometimes; hairs, never). Quite the contrary, each reorganization seems to add a whole new layer of hairs. ..With the increase in the Hairball’s mass comes a corresponding increase in the Hairball’s gravity. There is such a thing as Corporate Gravity. As in the world of physics, so too in the corporate world: The gravitational pull a body exerts increases as the mass of that body increases. And, like physical gravity, it is the nature of Corporate Gravity to suck everything into the mass – in this case, into the mass of Corporate Normalcy. The trouble with this is that Corporate Normalcy derives from and is dedicated to past realities and past successes. There is no room in the Hairball of Corporate Normalcy for original thinking or primary creativity” (p. 31). [emphasis mine]

The challenge for the reader is this: MacKenzie doesn’t offer the reader a roadmap to happiness and creativity at work. That’s our part of the journey!

One option to get you motivated could be asking what projects your colleagues are working on and offer to help; perhaps you can get involved with something outside your work zone and develop a new skill. Another option is simply to ask for help. I know that I forget that people, especially my colleagues, WANT to help me! All I have to do is ask! If you can be honest with your supervisor, maybe you can discuss your problem with them and ask for input or permission to start a new project. Maybe other colleagues can provide suggestions of what keeps them inspired and effective at work.

While admittedly, libraries have much less funding than Hallmark, what can we make happen on our wee little budgets? Maybe there is a free conference you can attend, a low-cost local training, or some other professional education opportunity that could help jumpstart your imagination. Is there a scholarship available? And how can your middle management help you?

MacKenzie (1998) writes “Any time a bureaucrat (i.e. a custodian of a system) stands between you and something you need or want, your challenge is to help that bureaucrat discover a means, harmonious with the system, to meet your need” (p. 139). What programs, projects, or collaborations could we start? Maybe it’s not a big thing. Maybe yours is a small project. But the point is to make it big enough so that you are launched away from the hairball and into orbit!

MacKenzie, G. (1998). Orbiting the giant hairball: A corporate fool’s guide to surviving with grace. New York: Viking Penguin.