Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving thanks - Librarians who I have never met and yet learnt from

I had a recent online conversation on Twitter with someone and she mentioned that she was very excited to have the opportunity to meet someone who was (and still is) her library hero from young (being a librarian was her childhood dream).

This set me thinking, do I have any library heroes?  Heroes might be too strong a word, but there are some people in the library field who have consistently influenced me (and dare I say inspire me) , so in this post I will give thanks to them.

Some are thought leaders who challenge how librarians think about the future, others are activists on the ground who have done great things in promoting the cause of librarianship. They work in different fields, one is a professor, one is a librarian-teacher, one is a medical librarian and one is a academic librarian.

All are highly energetic, inspirational and great speakers.

The most amazing thing is that I have never met any of them in the flesh! Some I have interacted online via Twitter, Facebook chat etc, some probably don't even know I exist, but through the miracles of blogs, twitter, youtube, free webinars etc they have impacted my and perhaps the work of countless more.

R. David Lankes

David Lankes really needs no introduction if you are a librarian. But if you need one he is currently Associate Professor and director of the renowned Syracuse University's School of Information Studies and a true giant of the field.

He maintains a amazing blog - Virtual Dave... Real Blog where he generously uploaded most of his presentations via Vimeo , so you can benefit from his lectures.

Though I have not gone to any international library conference yet so it's hard to compare, I would be really surprised if David Lankes isn't one of the best speakers in the library field. What I like about his presentations is that he focuses on the big picture whether it is on ebooks, reference etc and he always provokes me to think more consistently then any other library speaker.

Meredith Farkas

Meredith Farkas is currently Head of Instructional Initiatives at Norwich University and is a well known  librarian blogger and author. In her early days she was (and still is) particularly noted for her skill with wikis and started the very useful Library Success Wiki which is consulted by librarians around the world. She is author of  "Social Software in Libraries" , was named by Library Journal as a "Mover and Shaker" in 2006 among numerous other awards. She is currently teach a Library Course, which is fully open, a really comprehensive course on Social Libraries and a great resource.

"Information Wants to be Free" is a very famous blog of course but what I like about it is that she is a thought leader and addresses issues that are of concern to librarians and this does not necessarily refer to just technology ideas.

For instance her recent post "What's the deal, JSTOR?" , highlights an issue of grave concern to librarians and she managed to affect a change that benefited all libraries using JSTOR. In "Has EBSCO become the new evil empire?" , she wrote courageously about the practice of bundling resources.

You can read her above mentioned blog Information Wants to be Free , she tweets at Librarianmer and you can find her presentations here

This post was actually prepared a while back, but recently I spotted this  complimentary remark by Meredith about this blog  , needless to say this means a lot to me coming from her. 

Guus van den Brekel

Guus van den Brekel is Medical Information Specialist & Coördinator Electronic Services at University Medical Center Groningen. Guus is extremely active in promotion of library 2.0 tools and emerging technologies, in particular to me he is the "Library toolbar king", one of if not the most successful librarians when it comes to the use and promotion of library toolbars.

He has also done a lot of research on SecondLife, Netvibes , Science research networks etc. In some ways he is so ahead of the field, that once I saw someone tweet a presentation of his and I was looking at it thinking how it had many innovative ideas, until I noticed the date. It was done in 2007!

He's involved in many projects and I've mentioned this to him a few times, but my own interest in Library 2.0 was sparked by coming across an old blog of his called Library Toolbar blog. The blog which he kindly decide to translate to English after 2007 for international audiences, gave tips on how to create search strings for different databases, how to do datascraping to create RSS feeds and more.

I've benefited from interaction with him online via chat many times. For example, I first came across the idea of what he calls an "infectious library" where users can access library services even when outside the library portal from him.

You can follow Guus on Twitter @digicmb , look at his presentations here, or follow his blog here.

Buffy Hamilton

Buffy Hamilton, or the Unquiet Librarian is a School Library Media Specialist/teacher-librarian in Georgia. Buffy was recently named School Library Media Specialist of the year which was no surprise to me at all.

Buffy is not a name used much here in Singapore, and when I think Buffy, I inevitably think of one of my favourite TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which coincidentally seems to be popular with Librarians!) Buffy Hamilton is just as energetic and indefatigable as the fictional Buffy, except the evils she fights are not vampires or things that go bump in the night but the force of ignorance, those who fail to understand the importance of learning, education and libraries.

It's somewhat exhausting to even look at the number of things Buffy is involved in, but similar to Guus, she is proficient with the use of web 2.0 tools, in particular Netvibes, LibGuides, delicious etc.

What I admire about Buffy is her energy and  how she incorporates use of web 2.0 in her classes and as a teacher librarian she has great interest in promoting transliteracy, a topic I'm currently studying.

Her own personal blog is at The Unquiet Librarian , she shares items from her Google reader here and you can follow her tweets at @buffyhamilton

Librarians who fight the good fight

This is a catch-all group to all librarians who are passionate about what they do and go on quietly each day to improve libraries for all our users. I know of librarians who have sacrificed much to chase their dreams of being a librarian, and makes me wonder if I have taken my relatively smooth entry into Librarianship for granted.  


I know this is a hugely personal and biased list and there are many more amazing people including

plus many more who have blogged, tweeted or otherwise have influenced me in my work and thinking.

I'm sure you have your own list of librarians or people who you admire and/or have learnt from online, feel free to leave your comments so we can all learn from them.

mation Wants To Be Free
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