Thursday, July 13, 2017

one time i was mentioned it a book and it was cool and now it can be you being mentioned in a book and feeling cool!

hello friends! as you may already know, Tinamarie Vella and I are working on a book (a primer, really) to help archives, libraries, and museums use Twitter more effectively. i know, i know, OH GOD ANOTHER BOOK ON TWITTER SHOOT ME NOW. here's the thing: i've done the research, and the book we're trying to write doesn't actually yet exist in any sort of contemporary incarnation. it's pretty odd but there it is. i decided to write this book for pragmatic reasons, in response to watching organizations (colleges rather than college libraries in specific for the most part) be absolutely terrible at Twitter. how, after all these years, can one still be terrible at Twitter?! so i pitched this book as a more comprehensive followup to my now super old and outdated article, "Making Twitter Work: A Guide for the Uninitiated, the Skeptical, and the Pragmatic".

lately though, i've fallen behind on writing, because, well, writing about Twitter is UGH. i know i have some good advice to share, but i also know that a lot of articles and presentations about HOW TO SOCIAL MEDIA GOOD are pretentious and pedantic in the worst way. i've spent a lot of time thinking about how to toe the line between pragmatic and pretentious, and at one point i even tried to re-pitch the book as a collection of chapters by different authors. that did not go down well with my publisher (and i'm sure Tinamarie wouldn't love going from a co-author to a co-editor either, so it's probably best it didn't go down this way). BUTTTTTTTTT, i still feel this book needs other voices to really useful. Tinamarie and I know what we're talking about, and we're librarians, so obviously research is actually super fun times for us, but i still feel like there's a lot of untold stories out there. sooooooo, as a compromise to the edited chapters idea, we pitched the idea of including brief case studies throughout the book, in order to use real world examples to highlight all the innovative ways archives, libraries, and museums are using Twitter to engage their communities.

which brings me to my point (finally). we desperately want to hear from you. we created a form to collect stories from people about how their organizations are dealing with Twitter (or why you're NOT dealing with Twitter, that's an important story too!) originally we just wanted to interview people to get this information, but we're having trouble tracking down people who A) are involved with their organization's social media presence, and B) want to talk about how they feel their organizations are succeeding or failing on Twitter. so if you fall into both those categories (or if you know of someone who does, and you want to recommend we take a look at a specific organization/account) we would ADORE you for taking a look at our form.

most of the questions allow for long-form answers, and not all will apply to everyone, so we recommend you read through all the questions first, and then just answer the ones that help you tell your story. (remember those old school tests that started with "read all the instructions first" and then the last instruction was "don't actually answer any of the questions"? this is like that, only instead of testing your ability to follow directions i am trying to not test your patience. because there are a lot of questions. and you will probably hate me if you try to answer all of them. and i don't want to hate me because i have childhood issues that have resulted in me desperately needing people to like me. tmi? tmi.)

ideally, we'd like to feature you and your organization but we understand that some people don't feel comfortable speaking in the Royal We, or might be uncomfortable talking about less than successful stuff, so you can submit anonymously, or just name yourself or your organization. we will include as much or as little identifying information as you want.

here's the form:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

ACRL-NY UX Meeting

On Friday, April 7th, I gave a talk on mobile usability at an ACRL-NY UX Discussion Group meeting. A lively discussion followed about responsive design vs. mobile sites vs. apps. Stefanie Havelka of Lehman College gave some great pointers on conducting usability testing and using the results to justify improving web services.

I also mentioned I'd give links to Nielsen Norman Group's UX articles page, something about service design (the name of which I couldn't remember at the time), and the ACRL-NY UX blog, so here are those resources:

Also, if you liked this talk, and think it would make a good Ignite session at ALA in June, please consider voting for it!

Friday, February 10, 2017


I made myself a "Nevertheless, She Persisted" bracelet last night, and a few people expressed interest in having one of their very own. I'm happy to make and send them to you at cost, which is about $5 per bracelet. If you'd like one, please paypal me the 5 bucks and let me know the size of your wrist, where I should send it, and what kind of beads you want. Here are the options:

(gold, silver or black; square or round)
I stack mine with other beaded bracelets, so if you want a few of those I'll throw them in for 2 bucks a piece. Just tell me what colors you want or if there are any specific things you like, like "sparkly" or "natural stone" or "metal". I also have plain stainless steel chain in fine, medium, or large links.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

NJLA 2016 Conference Talks

Beyond the CE: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network

We live in a constantly changing world, and this does not stop at the library doors. There are more continuing education opportunities than ever ranging from Conferences and Unconferences to web sites, blogs, podcasts and social media. Everyone's personal learning network takes a different form, and this panel representing public, school and academic libraries will explore the broad landscape of professional development opportunities for librarians.


  • Joyce Valenza, Ph.D., Rutgers University
  • Robin Rockman, Youth Services Librarian, Oradell Free Public Library
  • Valerie Forrestal, Web Services Librarian, College of Staten Island
  • Alyssa Valenti, Electronic Resources & Web Services Librarian, Raritan Valley Community College
  • Theresa Agostinelli, Moderator


The Cats Are Herding Us: Neko Atsume and Mobile Usability*

Neko Atsume, a popular mobile app for smart phones and tablets, was an international hit despite the fact that gameplay was originally directed entirely in Japanese. This presentation assesses the usability of this app using Jakob Nielsen's "5 Aspects of Usability," as well as research on interface design for low-literacy users, in order to point out techniques for designing user-friendly mobile applications.

*part of the NJLA Ignite: Ideas that Inspire program organized by Allen McGinley


Monday, November 23, 2015

on appreciation aka i'm about to get real gross and sappy and i'm not sorry

if you're friends with me on twitter or facebook, you probably know about the drama my family had this weekend with a gas leak in our building, getting evacuated for 2 1/2 hours in the cold, and then having no heat or hot water for the rest of the weekend. after taking a very, very cold shower last night and then jumping into bed with like a million covers, washing my hands in warm water this morning was like a dream.

on my way to work today, there was the usual insane traffic trying to get out of town (all my bayonne peeps know that the struggle is REAL.) a truck driver slowed down to let me merge in, even though he had the right of way (i had a stop sign). i waved and said "thanks sir, i appreciate it!", even though he obviously couldn't hear me. but those words triggered a deep feeling in my cold, dead heart. it's been a rough fall for me, with the book debacle, family issues, and ikey getting sick. and that's not even counting the stress of trying to buy a house, which i totally brought on myself so i know i shouldn't complain about.

but it occurred to me in that moment that this week, (american) thanksgiving week, is the perfect time to choose to focus on all that i am thankful for. this sounds trite, i know, but in practical terms, i mean to make a conscious effort this week to stop and appreciate the things i do have, the things that go right, the relationships in my life. i'm going to say thank you more; going to stop and think, "wow, that was nice!" when someone goes out of their way for me; going to smile and acknowledge the people around me who make my life livable, from the crossing guards to the trash collectors to the coffee shop workers.

my parents taught me to be polite, so i'm definitely a please-and-thank-you kind of girl, but i'm going to focus on the words and the sentiment behind them, rather than just as an automatic response. instead of rushing through the thank-you moment, i'm going to pause in each one, and take an extra second or two to really feel the gratitude and appreciation. i have a feeling that just making this effort will make this a happy week for me and the people around me. (and let's hope it forms a habit!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Learned Extroversion: an Anxiety-Sufferer's Guide to Professional Development

This post has been brewing for a long time, and continues my long-standing tradition of posting about conference talks (basically just a place for people to find my slides) and personal stuff and little else in between. Today is on the personal side of things, with professional implications.

I was watching a tv show the other day, and someone was talking about how they are a "learned extrovert" and something clicked in my head. This was right after some drama that went down with my dentist's office, whereby they needed me to come in and sign some paperwork and couldn't understand why I never answer my phone. Good question, that. I mean, I'm not a snake person after all, so what's my big deal with the damned phone? (Aside from the fact that I have some hearing issues that make it near impossible for me to actually understand what the other person is saying and result in a constant refrain of "excuse me? can you repeat that?")

This is where the idea of learned extroversion comes in. People always "accuse" me of being an extrovert, and I try to explain that the colloquial definition (and maybe literal, I don't particularly feel like looking it up right now) of an extrovert is someone who is energized by social interaction, NOT someone who is good at it. If social interaction drains you, you're probably actually an introvert at heart. But definitely somewhere along the line I picked up the rules and rhythm of socializing, and at times can be quite proficient at it. The problem is, in order to do it I need plenty of preparation, a good understanding of the type of people I'll be around, a feel for the type of space and level of formality, and just the right amount of alcohol. If any one of those factors is off, I'm flailing. I can sometimes still do pretty well, but it takes a hell of a lot more out of me. And even the most successful, seemingly effortless social forays leave me exhausted and second-guessing myself for days, or even weeks.

So this goes back to why I hate answering the phone, or why I hate unplanned social interactions in general. I haven't had time to assess the situation and prepare myself, so they fill me with untold anxiety. (I'm "lucky" in the anxiety department. I don't ever seem to worry about normal things like money or mortality or any of the bad things in life that can ACTUALLY HAPPEN. Anxiety for me comes on suddenly and often inexplicably and lingers even after the trigger event or trigger moment is long gone, and presents itself at various levels of severity, from vague sense of impending doom to all-out hammering heart and shortness of breath.)

This summer I went to a pretty high-level leadership academy at Harvard, and it was a really tough experience for me, which has been lingering in the back of my brain and bugging me ever since. It was a good example of how awful things can be for the learned extrovert when events are not what they were expecting and they are not properly prepared.

First, I went into the week-long workshop stressed out about the fact that the only reason I had applied was because my work told me I had funds to spend on professional development, and so I sought out what I thought would be a worthwhile experience, only to be told later that those funds, for unknown reasons, were no longer available. And this is not an inexpensive event, and Cambridge is not an inexpensive place to stay. So being thousands of dollars out of pocket for something I was doing mostly because I thought I had money to spend put me in a bad place right from the start. Then there was the fact that I had 2 vacations with friends in the following 2 weeks, one of which I was flying to directly from Boston. (Vacations are fun, yes, but vacations are also STRESSFUL, duh.)

Also, the academy was far more intensive than I had prepared for: they were long days with very little opportunity to decompress by oneself built in. I actually had to miss a couple of sessions in order to find a quiet place to sit alone and recover from all the interaction. At the end of the day(s) I really should have holed up in my hotel room, catching up on reading (of which there was A LOT) and ordering room service while mindlessly staring at the tv, but I have friends in Boston, and made new ones at the event, so I did more socializing after hours than I had expected to.

I feel bad for my fellow attendees, like I let them down by needing to opt out of some of the group work and discussion, but I do feel like it was the only way for me to be "present" at the rest of the sessions. I was also a bit bummed out that my stress levels kept me from getting as much out of the workshop as others did, and the disappointment I felt when I saw (seemingly) everyone else having a transformative and deeply enriching experience when I was feeling cynical and stressed out fed into the anxiety loop and just made everything that much harder.

My advice for anyone applying for an immersion program or intensive academy, especially if you have depression and/or anxiety, is:

a) DO NOT FORGET YOUR MEDS (I brought mine on the trip but didn't have them on me during the first day of sessions and that was NOT SMART.)

b) Choose one or two nights for after hours socializing and resist the temptation to go out on the other nights, even just for dinner. It's a great bonding experience, but if you're anything like me, dinner leads to happy hour leads to hotel bar drinks leads to staying up way later than you had planned.

c) Be honest with yourself and others about how you're doing. People are surprisingly understanding and accommodating when you're open about where your head's at.

d) Leave work at work. Let colleagues know ahead of time that you will not be available and don't check your email during the day.

e) Reach out to your touchstones. Part of my problem was being cut off from my supportive and helpful online community of librarians, who really are a lifeline for me. This academy expressly asked that we not use our phones during sessions, or tweet or post what was being talked about. I definitely understand these rules, but I wish I broke them just a little bit. My online PLN helps me make put ideas and theories in context, and more importantly, helps me feel a little bit less crazy through commiseration, compassion, and humor. Being so out of touch with them added to my feeling a bit adrift and isolated within the group.

Finally, it's important to know your limits. Conferences and workshops are meant to push you and inspire you, but you have to know when you're overwhelmed and consequently starting to shut down. Prioritize what you want to learn and what you want to get out of an experience, and hold yourself to that, but also give yourself the space you need to unwind and decompress. This is pretty much my lifelong challenge: learning when I should be hard on myself, and when I should just chill the fuck out.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

ankle injuries and horror movies

so yesterday i was laid up with a strained peroneus brevis muscle which apparently is from walking too much on uneven surfaces in crappy shoes with not enough support. i asked twitter for suggestions for horror movies i could watch on netflix or amazon prime, and i figured i'd share the resulting list here, as a reminder to myself, but also for you good people! i should say that i specified that the movies not feature extreme gore or gratuitous violence towards women, because that sort of thing makes my stomach hurt. thanks to everyone on twitter and facebook for your suggestions, it's much appreciated!!!
  • absentia 
  • american mary
  • babadook 
  • conqueror worm
  • dark skies
  • devil's backbone
  • grave encounters
  • harper's island (series)
  • haunter
  • hide and seek
  • housebound 
  • nightcrawler
  • oculus
  • pontypool
  • rosemary's baby
  • the awakening
  • the host
  • the house of the devil 
  • the innkeepers
  • the others
  • the pact
  • the possession 
  • the taking of deborah logan
  • the tall man
  • under the skin
  • what we do in the shadow
ok so that's it for now. i'm also thankful to my lovely internet friends for recommending ankle braces so this recurring injury hopefully decides to recur less often. these are the 2 that people seem to like: McDavid Laced Ankle BraceASO Ankle Stabilizing Orthosis