Friday, October 17, 2014

Bracelets for Bewbs part Deux

It's bracelets for breasts part 2! For a $10 donation, I'll send you a fully hypoallergenic stainless steel bracelet (like one of the ones in the pic below), and 100% of the money goes to help my BFF Heidi's mom fight breast cancer. Last time we did this we raised 500 bucks for her treatments and she was so thankful and we all cried a lot ( If you want a bracelet you can send your donation through the link below. Please specify the length you'd like! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Brian Farr and I will be discussing our library website rebuild and the ins and outs of successfully using Wordpress as a CMS at this year's EDUCAUSE conference in Orlando, Florida. We'll be presenting at 2:30pm on Tuesday, in Meeting Room W311F-H. [Tuesday schedule]

Our talk, Building Academic Websites (in the Real World) will also be webcast, so if you'll be attending the virtual conference, you can catch us there too!

As usual, I'll include links to any of the resources we talk about, and try to keep the list updated as new topics or questions arise:
And, because animated gifs don't work in slideshare, here's the run-through of the evolution of the new site. Agile development FTW!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Google Drive for Libraries @ SLA-NY

I'll be speaking at the 2014 SLA NY Conference & Expo (9:15, Social Media track) on Thursday, 9/18/14, at Baruch's Vertical Campus in Manhattan, on the topic of Google Drive for libraries and information professionals. The hashtag is #slany if you'll be there and want to share your experience on Twitter.

Some links and resources I'll be talking about include -

Google Drive "Hacks":
Google Drive Encryption Tools:
Google Drive and Privacy:
I'll also be talking about Google Drive in my book, "Library Knowledge Bases Made Easy", which will be published by Rowman & Littlefield some time in 2015, so look out for that! ;)

Monday, April 21, 2014

want to contribute to #ProjectTiara?

it's probably not tax deductible, but it should be...


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Directions in Information Fluency Conference

I'll be presenting on 4/5/14 at the New Directions in Information Fluency conference at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. If you'll be attending, please consider attending my talk on collaborating with your school's writing center to provide workshops on writing research papers. It's during Concurrent Session III, at 2pm, and part of Panel D on Productive Collaborations (Olin 302).

This co-teaching experiment was actually from when I was still at Stevens, and all the lesson plans, handouts, and exercises were developed in conjunction with (and sometimes solely by) Jennifer McBryan, who is all kinds of awesome. I ended up leaving before we had a chance to get past anecdotal evidence of the program's success, so we never did get to most of the assessment methods mentioned in the presentation.

The most popular workshop we gave revolved around helping students understand the correct way to "use" scholarly sources. As in, how to develop a topic, how to read and understand an academic journal article, and how to responsibly use the content in their own papers. (Those links go to the handouts we used to teach each concept, via Google Docs. Feel free to download, adapt, and use them as you like.)

For the paraphrasing exercise, I would find 3 articles related to the course topic, or a sample research paper topic as outlined by the syllabus, and I'd send the first 2 pages of each of those articles to Jenn, who would then create a paraphrased excerpt from each one. (Here are the sample articles referred to in the above-linked exercise.) She would build some errors into each excerpt, either in the in-text citation, or in the way the writer is using the paraphrase or quote. (We were trying to get them to understand that you can't just pull words from an article, and use them out-of-context. You can't imply that the original author is saying something other than what they were actually trying to say, even if you can make the quote sound like it supports your thesis.)

I have to give all the credit to Jenn for being great at creating these problematic paraphrase excerpts. She was fabulous at making them challenging, but realistic, and I was pleasantly surprised by how adept the students were at catching even subtle misuse of information.

Finally, I've put together a brief reading list of articles discussing Library-Writing Center collaboration:

Thursday, March 13, 2014


i like tiaras. they are sparkly. and i feel special when i'm wearing one. when i was in high school, i was a runner-up for homecoming queen, and instead of all the runners-up (runner-ups?) getting tiaras, as they did every other year, only the queen and the next 2 highest vote-getters got tiaras. this made me sad, because i wanted one. so, like any rational human being with access to a chinatown-esque variety store, i went and bought myself one and wore it to the prom. take that, stupid tiara-nazis!

aaaaaanyway, about a year or so back i discovered that you can buy ridiculously pretty tiaras on ebay for super cheap. they come from china, and i feel kind of bad about the labor conditions of those making them, but at the moment i'm shoving that emotion deep down inside until i can find an ethical-but-reasonably-priced online tiara store. DREAM BIG, KIDS.

so now i have a bunch of tiaras, including 2 3D printed ones! (the first is from Steve Teeri, who made it at the Detroit Public Library's HYPE Makerspace, and the crown from Tyler Rousseau's library's makerspace.)  i especially enjoy wearing them when i'm doing something i don't particularly want to do, like my chores, just because it cheers me up a bit.

anyway, for no reason in particular, i decided one day to send other people tiaras. i feel like my thinking might have gone along the lines of: "oh, this person said they like my tiara, so THEY should have a tiara too!" then the other day i just got it in my head that i needed to send out some congratulatory tiaras. i'm not entirely sure why. i had just found out one of my conference proposals finally got accepted, and i also got a small professional development grant, so maybe i just had celebrating small successes on the brain. also, i'm a huge fan of this kid:

he's so right! you're doing great! you need to give yourself more credit! so, i invited twitter to take part in #ProjectTiara. the rules are simple:
  1. dm me your name and address (i'm @vforrestal on twitter)
  2. tell me of some small (or large!) success you've had lately (it really can be anything. if ever i make it to work on time for an entire week, i'm going to buy myself a freakin CROWN.)
  3. agree to send me a pic of the tiara when you receive it, so i can do a series of posts celebrating your successes, small and large. (if you're camera shy, it can just be a pic of the top of your head, or you can put the tiara on a pet, or really whatever. be creative!)
never mind all that, i made a form! so now all you have to get a tiara is fill out the form at the end of this post, or here.

that's it! really! i'm on a mission to sparkle-fy the world, and to fight the trend in the library world that you have to WIN ALL THE AWARDS! and PUBLISH ALL THE ARTICLES! to be a success. you're out there every day doing a job that makes the world a better place, and you deserve to be celebrated for it. you need to pop on a tiara every once in awhile and remind yourself (and the world!) how fucking awesome you are. 


UPDATE-- Nicholas Schiller has officially joined the good fight to sparkle-fy the world!!! If you're not a tiara person (which I won't even PRETEND to understand, but hey, to each their own!) head over to OPERATION: BOW TIE and secure yourself a celebratory bow tie!


UPDATE 2-- We have a tumblr!


I've had a couple of people ask about helping defray the cost of the tiaras, so if you'd like to donate a few bucks to the cause, you can do so here:

Thank you for your support!!!!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

in defense of the crazy cat lady

lately, when someone asks me how many cats i have, i've taken to holding up 4 fingers, like saying the number out loud is some sort of admission of guilt. and if i'm lucky, instead of outright derision, i'll be met with a look of pity and an indulgent smirk.

it doesn't help that i'm a single 35 year old female librarian. i'm pretty thoroughly a stereotype. but the cat thing really isn't my fault. i grew up in a little apartment with my parents and brother, so cats were really the biggest pet you could have, and we had cats the entire time i lived there. people are often fond of the kind of pet they grew up with. it's perfectly normal.

but 4? ok. maybe that's a bit self-indulgent. i got the 2nd one to keep the first company while i was at work. but they didn't really get along, so when a neighbor found a stray and asked if i was interested in taking him in, i didn't hesitate. and i said 3. never more than 3. that would just be crazy! and then this happened on instagram:

shut up, clearly that cat had to come home with me. i obviously had no choice but to take him in!

whenever someone makes fun of me or looks at me funny or calls me a crazy cat lady, i get a bit tongue-tied. i want to defend myself, but i know i shouldn't have to. i know it shouldn't matter what anyone thinks of me. but i'm a 35 year old single lady, and often i feel in a vulnerable position. what if i am crazy? what if i'm weird and un-date-able? women only have value while they're fuckable, and lord knows i'm past my prime in terms of looks, so clearly my decision to have 4 cats is a statement to the world that i've decided to give up and embrace spinsterhood (which i *do* joke about. it's not the worst fate.) but my decision to have 4 cats has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that they utterly and truly bring me nothing but pure joy.

ok, maybe that's the teensiest, tiniest bit hyperbolic. cleaning puke off my freshly-washed comforter or wiping poop off a writhing, yowling cat's foot will never bring me joy. but those moments are far, far fewer than the moments of pure joy. i can't explain to you how i feel when a happy, purring cat looks up from my lap with sleepy eyes and gives me that contented half-meow.

and whenever i hear or see things that make me sad, people treating each other awfully, people treating animals awfully, i look at my cats and think, "i can't make everything better in the world, but i can make everything awesome for THEM. i can do just that little bit of good and treat these 4 little creatures with all the love and kindness that i wish i was willing and able to give the rest of the world."

and that fills me with pure joy.

i can only hope that you can find something that gives you that feeling on a regular basis. spouse, kid, pet, plants, volunteering, hobbies, work. whatever. i won't ever mock you for finding some harmless thing that makes you truly happy.

i wish that for you, with all my heart.

so maybe cut me some slack with the 4 cats, k?

*(see more of my cats on instagram)