Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Random Thoughts from Day 1 at Mesh Conference

I've been "singing for my supper", volunteering at Mesh Conference 2007. It has been very worthwhile: I dig in enthusiastically when needed, and can act as a delegate attending sessions when not. It is a gig high in demand, especially among the students who did not manage to get in under the discounted student rate, so I am privileged to get in under this guise. Tuesday afternoon/evening I helped stuff the conference bags. Then we had a volunteer meeting that same evening to brief us and give us our "staff" shirts. We were given our schedules and assigned to our posts when we arrived today. I have done things such as prepare rooms for speakers, trouble-shoot problems setting up laptops for the sessions (mostly by finding someone who knows more unfortunately), answer lots of directional questions from delegates, distribute a press release, move signs around, and even take some informal semi-official photographs with a rather nice camera.

Since there are only a few specific sessions I wanted to target, I have enjoyed some of my tasks, going from room to room and hearing parts of the conversation. I'm amazed how many people are attending who I recognize (and recognize me) from last year. The beginnings of a real community feel like they are starting to form.

mesh conference

Some quick snippets of things I have learned (most from talking to others):
  • Women 2.0 - based on the U.S. group of the same name, a very new group of women are coming together to encourage young women to get into technology, and to support entrepreneurial women. They are the only booth at the conference, with clever marketing: a professional massage therapist giving out massages, and little promo cards of important women in geek history: Velma (from Scooby Doo), Foxy Brown, and Ms Pacman. At last count, Foxy Brown was proving only slightly more popular than Velma. If you are interested in supporting the group or getting involved, email them at women@women2.ca.
  • Amazing new collaborative company based out of Sudbury with many clients: ConceptShare.
  • Melcrum has just started something called Communicator's Network. It has just been launched and is not at full features yet, but you can have a sneak peak. I haven't tried it out yet, but it sounds like it may be a competitor to some currently social networking sites.
  • Minding mapping ideas is a good way to start developing podcast episode ideas. During Leesa Barnes' Podcasting 101 workshop, I was fortunate to have my idea act as fodder, and I am a step closer to realizing one of my podcast ideas.
  • Leesa Barnes has a podcast called Cubicle Divas.
  • To help pick out a podcast title (or name title for other purposes): Pop: Stand Out in Any Crowd by Sam Horn. See also her website, blog and free first chapter of the book (PDF).
  • from my surfing, I also found this tool which mindmaps subjects on Wikipedia: http://www.wikimindmap.org/
Well, there is lots more but I need to take a break for the evening and start back at it tomorrow.

Cheers!
Connie

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Library Camp NYC - Tues. August 14, 2007

I have been watching with great envy as Library Camp in New York City grows with more participants and potential sessions. I am the one grinch on the sign-up page to state bitterly that I won't be attending and why oh why did they put it mid-week? Well, I can't complain too loudly since I manage to get to a lot of pretty great events. I am very happy they are doing something cool and exciting in NYC (I may partly be bitter because I hate to miss any opportunity to go to NYC).

So, the question is, when are we going to do a Library Camp North? I'm already well committed into October on the Northeast Regional Law Libraries Meeting but that conference will be specific to law libraries and will have a very different "look and feel" to it. I would love to see library types in these-here parts (Toronto area or thereabouts) get together to do something similar.

Would you be willing to lead the way??

New course: Social Networking Tools: Hands on Learning (Aug. 9/07)

I am very excited to announce a new continuing ed course I will be teaching at the Professional Learning Centre, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto:

Social Networking Tools: Hands on Learning

Web 2.0, Facebook, Second Life - have taken the world and the library by storm! Explore these social media networking tools in this hands-on computer lab class. Set up a blog and wiki, view RSS feeds in an aggregator, try a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us, and create a profile on professional networking site LinkedIn. Look at Flickr, LibraryThing, Ning, Facebook, MySpace and Second Life. Test out the latest apps such as Twitter and Jaiku. We will try some of these and have a "tour" of others, as well as discuss the implications for libraries.

Specific learning outcomes for students

At the end of the course, participants will:

* be able to set up a blog using Blogger or Wordpress
* be able to set up a wiki using PB Wiki
* set up some RSS feeds in a web-based aggregator such as Google Reader or Bloglines
* set up a profile on business networking site LinkedIn
* try using a web-based social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us or equivalent
* become familiar with Ning, Twitter, Jaiku, Flickr, LibraryThing , MySpace, Facebook and Second Life either through hands-on use or a live "tour" given to the class, depending upon time
* become familiar with how these are being used by libraries and library staff

Key topics covered

* who in society is using these applications?
* how are they being used by libraries and library staff?
* what are both the positive and negative aspects to these technologies?
* using social networking applications inside the firewall
* issues surrounding communication in public spaces
* what is Library 2.0 compared to Web 2.0
* how to learn more
* how to stay current in this area

Target Audience:
Library technicians, librarians, library managers and directors as well as others interested in Web 2.0.
When: Thursday, August 9, 2007, 9 am - 5 pm
Where: Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto
Register

Thanks go to Rebecca Jones who shared the original concept with me (and I just had to jump on the opportunity), and to Eva Kupidura for working with me to set this up and who keeps things running smoothly at the PLC.

This will be my very first time attempting this feat, and you won't want to miss it!! Sign up now since spaces will be limited to the number of computers in the room.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Quick Sketch Biography of Connie Crosby

Yesterday Chris Brogan wrote An Autobiography of Sorts which impressed me. I met Chris as a charismatic, outgoing podcaster at PodCamp Toronto earlier this year. He is a "super networker" in my books, meeting and connecting with lots of people, putting them in touch with one another. His autobiographical post filled in the blanks as to where he had come from, how he got to be what he is today. I was surprised as to all the self-development he has worked on, and the interesting path he has taken.

Today Chris has challenged his readers to write our own autobiographies. I have started reading those of others, and thought it only fair that I play along. I guess when I started this blog most people reading would have known me personally. It has gone beyond that, with many of you reading never having met me. So really I am doing this for you, dear readers. Here goes!

Jim Milles and Connie Crosby Speaking at PodCamp Toronto

The thing most people know me for is…

Energy and enthusiasm for my vocation, law librarianship, and its related areas such as legal research, social networking (Web 2.0), knowledge management, and my blogging on these subject areas.

The people I associate the most with are…

Older than me. LOL! Even growing up I tended to "hang out" with the kids in the grade above me and that has translated into most of my friends being older than me. Part of that is just the nature of my profession. I was the youngest law firm manager in town at the time when I started in that role. Many in my age group in library school just did not find traditional library work during the recession times of the early 1990s. There really is a gap with not enough people in my generation now to take the place of those retiring.

That being said, outside of the profession I associate with all types of people. The one thing everyone I know has in common is that they are positive, up-beat people. Most tend to be over-achievers, either in their work life or in their personal lives. My personal inclination would probably be to sleep in and watch TV all day, but I really feed on all that energy and "can-do" attitude from others to drive me.

People who have influenced my life are…

Innumerable! I take my influences from everywhere, and from almost everyone I meet. I have had so may colleagues nudge me along in my career, or give me a big hand up, that it would be difficult to name them all. Some I have been able to thank, and for some I have probably neglected to show enough appreciation.

In my personal life, my parents had a huge influence. My mother always took the feminist stance that a woman needs a serious career and should support herself; my father taught me all about tolerance, patience, balance in life and that the ability to be proficient with computers has nothing to do with age. From other family members I have learned to make things a little better, to laugh, and what is really important in life. Friends have given me personal support and also inspired me. Others have challenged me to do more or develop myself at times when I would not have otherwise done so.

I have been truly blessed to have had many supportive, positive people in my life.

One challenge I took on and overcame was…

My intense shyness. People find it funny to learn that I could possibly be shy, since I am so forthcoming in my writing and also now do a proficient job at speaking to audiences. Throughout school, including my two university degrees in English Literature and my Masters in Library Science, I found it difficult to talk in class, talk in front of groups, and especially to talk to instructors. Earlier on it extended to being unable to talk to kids I did not already know. To this day I still turn red when I do any talking in front of people or even in meetings.

I specifically set out to challenge myself and overcome my shyness, which I felt would hinder my career. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone was key. I started by volunteering as overnight DJ on campus radio, where it was difficult to believe I even had an audience listening. Later in the working world I joined association committees and participated in meetings. Gradually I worked my way up, making myself ask one question at every presentation I attended. Getting up to a microphone in those big conference sessions was the most nerve-wracking. From there I started introducing speakers at conferences, then got involved with short little (5 minute) talks. I am now up to speaking an hour and a half in front of a small audience, or speaking for a shorter period in front of a large audience. I have also helped conduct half-day workshops.

I knew I really had overcome much of the shyness when my family asked me to give my grandfather's eulogy several years back. A roomful mostly of strangers who were upset at his passing, and I managed to crack a joke and get them laughing at his memory. He had a fantastic sense of humour and wouldn't have wanted it a completely staid affair. Today when I speak I still think back to that as the most difficult gig I'll ever have to do.

Working a room is still a challenge, but I believe it is for almost everyone. When I am in a room with no one I know, I focus on enjoying the atmosphere, watching people, and forget about worrying that I am not talking to someone. Lately I have been watching for events posted to Upcoming.org and attending those that interest me. I have met a lot of interesting, smart people in my city this way. The trick is to step right in and introduce myself, and find something in common with the people sitting around me. In particular I have written about my experience with Toronto Wiki Tuesdays.

My early years, before you probably got to know me were…

Equally serious! I was always the good, smart student. I worked as a page at the Burlington Central Public Library in Burlington, Ontario part-time after school starting when I was 15. My intentions were always to be a teacher, and I used to volunteer with special needs children during summers and on weekends. I was also the neighbourhood babysitter, and knew all the little kids on my block. When I was about 18, I realized that being a librarian included the teaching aspect that I was interested in, and that I probably wouldn't have the resilience to teach a classroom full of kids every day. The librarians at the Central library said I would "make a good librarian someday". I resisted that idea for a while, but at some point I realized maybe they were right.

I also took a lot more credits in high school than most kids. I lived in Pierrefonds, Quebec until Grade 9 and was in French immersion. Arriving in Ontario I was placed either in classes the grade above me, or in the advanced versions of classes. Everything I know about English grammar I learned in Grade 8 in Quebec, and I have been a fairly proficient proofreader since that time. I was good both in the arts and in science. In Grade 13 I also worked half my time in a chemistry co-op at the Shell Research Centre in Oakville, Ontario, (since closed) in a lab testing polypropalene (a type of plastic).

I attended the University of Guelph (also in Ontario) for many years. I started in Computer Science and even took the engineering Calculus course. I learned a lot (including programming in Pascal) but I really didn't enjoy that first year. Knowing that ultimately I wanted to go into library school and that as long as I did respectably in my undergrad degree, I switched into English Literature. There I fell in love with post modern Canadian literature including the books by authors Robert Kroetsch, Rudy Wiebe and Michael Ondaatje. I also rediscovered what I liked about computers, and by my last year in undergrad I was participating in an on-campus computer conferencing (networking) system called T-CoSy (the "teaching" version of CoSy, which stands for "Conference System", a networking system developed at the University of Guelph in 1984). This was a decade before the World Wide Web. Throughout my undergrad I worked at the McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph, at the circulation desk and the reserves desk.

After completing my undergrad, I was invited by an English Literature professor to do a Master of Arts under him, in the area of computer applications for the humanities. I worked as a teaching assistant helping a class use T-CoSy, and later teaching a public speaking class to agriculture students. That might sound funny to some, but taking part in advocacy and public life is very important to those who work in agriculture. I was an unlikely candidate to teach that last one, but it is what English TAs did. My thesis was actually a handbook about computing for the humanities. It talked about things like using the SNOBOL programming text to analyze the language, using computers to generate music (imagine that!) and using computers to record/annotate dance choreography since choreography notation has serious limitations. Needless to say, the thesis was not a viable commercial publication since it was pretty much out of date as soon as I completed it. I learned a lot writing it, but the final product was underwhelming.

Library school was still calling, but I was anxious to work as well. I found a full-time position as library clerk in the Toronto office of a large law firm. They treated me very well and supported my attendance in library school, then the Faculty of Library and Information Science (FLIS, now FIS or Faculty of Information Studies) at the University of Toronto. I worked my way up to the technician position, and in my last year of part-time library school, I was asked to take on the role of reference librarian. This had been a dream of mine for the previous 10 years.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing reference, but I needed to re-set my goals. After soul searching, I discovered that I really wanted to be a leader in my profession, and that for me success would not necessarily be tied to the work position that I hold, but to what I could bring to my profession and my colleagues. Thus I started seriously working in the Toronto Association of Law Libraries (TALL) on committees and serving my colleagues. I also realized I wanted to be a manager. I have been very interested in management theory and am still dreaming of doing an MBA. But theory and real life are two different things, and so I moved to another law firm when the opportunity arose. I have been in my current firm for almost 10 years now, which seems incredible to me. I work with a fantastic staff. We are challenged every day, and rise up to meet those challenges.

I have also served as editor of the newsletter from TALL, on the Publisher Liaison Committee, and then on the Executive Committee as Vice President/President/Past President. It was so rewarding to follow in some big footsteps and make my mark on the association! I also gradually became involved with the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in several smaller roles. Most recently I served on the Executive Board as Member at Large. That was a fantastic experience, especially since my portfolio included the Awards and Scholarships Committee and organizing the First Timers breakfast. That was a two-year position. I would like to go back on the board some day in a larger role.

For now, though, I am kept very busy co-chairing the Northeast Regional Law Libraries Meeting ("NE2007") to be held this coming October. It is an occasional meeting (or conference) of northeast chapters of the American Association of Law Libraries and interested local Canadian Associations. TALL is hosting the meeting in Toronto. The last time it was held was in 1996, also in Toronto. We have big shoes to fill! We are expecting anywhere from 500 to 650 delegates plus numerous vendors. I have been working with Stephen Weiter in Rochester, NY (representing ALLUNY) on this for about 3 years now. We have an amazing group working on this, with whom I am very honoured to be associated.

Some of you may remember me before I started blogging in 2004. Before that time, I was a posted prolifically to listservs. Once I discovered blogs, that largely replaced that passion. I blog here on my self-named blog, Connie Crosby. I also have a "linkblog" called Connie Crosby Links for quick links to things I discover on the web and want to refer to later. I also participate in the Canadian co-operative law research and technology Slaw. I have helped start and participate in a number of other co-operative blogs for specific groups.

The blogging led to other writing engagements. Sabrina Pacifici, who I met in person at the 2005 Special Libraries Association conference in Toronto, invited me to write a column for LLRX.com. Thus "The Tao of Law Librarianship" was born (not all are posted yet on the redesigned LLRX site). It has been a lot of work to put that column out, and it hasn't been quite every month, but I am very proud of each of those columns.

The writing led to speaking which I have talked about. I have spoken at CALL conferences, Ark conferences, and have helped Sabrina put on workshops at Computers in Libraries. Recently I spoke to the Ontario Association of Library Technicians, and I have other engagements in the wings.

I met Jim Milles as well (through blogging) and he invited me to be a "Canadian correspondent" on his podcast Check This Out! That has helped build an interest in podcasting, and I have been exploring potential in that area.

At work I explore areas such as intranets, information management and knowledge management. I have been a member of the informal group Toronto KM Group (largely made up of law firm KM directors) and their related group the Toronto Intranet Coordinators Group. I love meeting with both of these groups. They are very different groups, both made up of some of the smartest people I know.

You might not know this, but …

I am currently developing a course for Rebecca Jones and Eva Kupidura at the Professional Learning Centre at the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, in their continuing education program. I have long been a fan and a student of the PLC, so I am thrilled to be associated with them. The course, originally envisioned by Rebecca, will be on social networking (Web 2.0) applications. It is scheduled for August and we will be exploring fun applications such as blogs, wikis, Flickr, Ning, LinkedIn and Twitter (among many others), as well as talking about their implications for libraries and society. It should be posted soon. It is something that I hope, if it runs successfully, we will update and run periodically.

I’m passionate about…

Social networking, libraries, law librarianship, management theory (including knowledge management, change management, and information management), fiction, film, food, the environment (and our planet as a whole), personal fitness, cycling/spinning, and Pilates.

In the next year or two, I hope to…

Hold a successful NE2007 conference that others will find invaluable to their own professional development, learning, and networking. If the Social Media course at PLC goes well in August, that it will develop into a regular course. I hope to work more with Sabrina Pacifici on future workshops and presentations. Add in a podcast or two. Jim Milles and Wayne MacPhail have been encouraging me in this area, and I have two ideas currently in the works. I will also be helping Jim put on the pre-conference workshop "How (and What) to Podcast" at the American Association of Law Libraries conference this July in New Orleans. I am exploring some other possibilities, too. At work I hope to help give birth to a bouncing, beautiful baby intranet. In the meantime, we are exploring wikis as a partial interim solution.

Believe it or not, this may not be quite enough. I still dream of taking an MBA program. I actually have my eye on another similar program which is at the PhD level. It is very competitive to get into, so forgive me if I don't specifically mention it here. The less competition the better. I am a professional student at heart.

As you can see, my interests are varied and each seems to be taking on a life of its own. At times I feel like I should choose between them and focus, but really this is the short list since my interests could easily grow beyond these. I'm really a generalist and like to know a lot about a lot of different things.

People ask me how I have time to do all these things. Often it feels like I don't have enough time, to be honest. And I really do say no to things, honest. But when I see an opportunity, I do like to see where it will lead. It has been truly amazing where the blogging, for example, has led.

In terms of world view, I consider myself one of the most lucky, blessed people on this planet. Living in Canada with a roof over my head, enough food to eat, family and friends who love me, and the ability to choose how I live my life: not a lot of people on this planet can say they have all of these things. Despite talking about myself throughout this post, I really try to be as outward-facing as I can, to not be selfish and to serve others.

So much for this being "a quick sketch!". Thanks for reading this far. Now, what about *you*? Are you willing to take up Chris' autobiography challenge?

Cheers,
Connie

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New CALL SIG Knowledge Management Blog

I've been keeping a low profile lately, trying to get away on my "big vacation". Alas, that has largely fallen through. I'm still taking a break for a couple of weeks but may take advantage of this time off to catch up on a few things including my blogging.

First off, I congratulate Wendy Reynolds and Linda Matte, chairs of the Knowledge Management Special Interest Group (KM SIG), part of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL), for kicking off a new blog called KM Librarians! As part of this SIG, I can't wait to contribute my bit. If you are a member of CALL and would like to contribute to the blog, please contact Wendy or Linda.

Thanks to Simon Fodden on SLAW for linking to it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Been Busy, But Back to Blogging!

It has greatly pained me to be away from you, my dear blog readers! Since Saturday I was at the CALL conference in Ottawa, connecting with lots of people. Unfortunately I didn't have very good web access. My macbook wouldn't connect to the ethernet connection in my room, and I was loathe to spend an hour on the phone with the hotel's tech support trying to get it to work. Most of the conference session rooms I was in did not have wireless (one room I was in had it intermittently).

I did, however, manage to connect with lots of readers. I am delighted so many of you introduced yourselves to me! That was as much of a thrill for me as it was for you since rarely do I find out who is reading these little ambling thoughts that I post. It is very rewarding to know that you are reading along and enjoy what I have to say. Thanks so much for all of your kind words!

Before CALL 2007 I was running around trying to get work under control, still catching up from Computers in Libraries conference, and I also attended one or two neat social events in the city and met lots of people there, too.

Tomorrow I am heading to the OALT/ABO conference. I am giving an introduction on knowledge management called "Bringing Sexy Back: how knowledge management makes work sexier". I hope it will be a light but meaningful look at KM and our role, as library staff, in KM. If you will be there, please do say hello! I would love to meet you and hear about your projects.

I hope to have a little down time soon to post on all of this. I did find it frustrating to not be able to post here during CALL since it is always more efficient just to post "live" while I am at a talk.

While I was away, the National, the magazine of the Canadian Bar Association, published my little article on legal research (on page 9). Thanks to the editors for inviting my contribution! My colleagues at Slaw also gave a write-up which was a nice ego boost when I saw it after a long day of travel.

Cheers,
Connie