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A Dangerous Woman

[updated] I woke up early Saturday morning, the last day of a galvanizing good conference on the future of library catalogs (Carl Grant and Michael Norman were especially good; no, they were amazing, and Kate Sheehan of Librarything for Libraries was fabu), and tore my presentation to shreds.

My talk the previous day had been all right. Not bad, but forgettable. It wasn’t challenging or numinous or particularly memorable.

The week prior, I had so much trouble with Saturday’s talk. I knew I would be talking with library trustees. I’ve done that before, quite a bit in fact, not always successfully. So I really needed to get it together Friday night, and just couldn’t. (Just like tonight I’m supposed to be writing and should have bagged it and read books.)

Instead I fell asleep early — 9ish — and woke up at 5:30 with my hair on fire, after dramatic save-the-world dreams, and knew what I had to say.

So I deleted a few slides and added a few slides and prinked and tweaked some more, and then when it was time I got up to the dais and cleared my throat and said things I believed (though I ran the presentation from my flash drive, starting my presentation by saying “What goes to Champaign, stays in Champaign”).

I talked about predatory vendors and consultants (some are) and library staff who are resistant to change and test all software based on their comfort levels or personal needs (more than some are) and the unstable nature of the software market and the need to accept that machines can help us, especially with creating or borrowing metadata, and about the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt some folks were spreading about open source, which I described as near-scandalous, and I used some examples from real life, including one anecdote shared by a librarian in another country who said she was told open source was only good for third-world countries, which is something I later shared with Equinox, mostly because “third-world country” is what everyone in Florida secretly thinks about Georgia, just like it’s how Georgia and Florida see Alabama and Mississippi.

I said a few more things and then I finished, and I felt good. I had been sharp and smart and funny. It wasn’t my best presentation ever, but it was well out of the trough of forgettability.

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3 Comments

  1. kate wrote:

    one of the most illuminating things about this conference was seeing a sliver of your process. your presentation was great- lively, interesting, informative. kept people engaged in the deadly post-lunch slump on day two of a non-stop conference.

    but hearing and reading your thoughts on it, i can see a little bit of how it works for the cream of the crop. if friday was your lesser talk, then those are some lucky saturday trustees.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  2. Brian wrote:

    Yeah, I liked your Friday talk, too. And not just because you mentioned my video. Probably despite that, even. :-)

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  3. Dale wrote:

    Just wish I could have heard the talk! (Admits one of the librarians briefly infected with the “fear of open source”….btw, my questions haven’t been answered, but at least I now know the problem may be in the organization, not with the code or documentation…um, my organization…

    Sunday, September 23, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

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