2011 – A Librarian Looks Back

Revisiting 2011 with my librarian lens, I discovered several Vermont library-related geeky highlights.

KOHA Transition

KOHA is an open-source library management system (LMS). In Vermont, the Green Mountain Library Consortium formed a VOKAL/KOHA group dedicated to making KOHA work for Vermont libraries. By the end of 2010, I had helped the Brownell Library transition from its propriety LMS to KOHA – the first library in the consortium to do so as part of the VOKAL project. In the spring of 2011, several other libraries completed their own transition, and I trained librarians around the state on how to use KOHA’s amazingly powerful search features. This year has seen an incredible coming-together of librarians throughout Vermont as more joined VOKAL and helped create a working online library catalog. To see if your library is part of the VOKAL consortium, check out the catalog.

NELA Conference

In October, Vermont hosted the New England Library Association (NELA) Conference, and librarians from throughout NE flooded the Sheraton in Burlington to discuss library issues and trends. R. David Lankes, a professor from Syracuse University, gave a keynote titled “Killing Librarianship” in which he challenged us to become “activist librarians” and figure out the purpose of libraries in the 21st Century (presentation). Other highlights included Vermont’s own Jessamyn West discussing the persistent and increasingly dangerous digital divide in the U.S., especially in rural states like Vermont (link to her talk); and Steve Butzel’s presentation called “Website Makeovers for Mobile Users,” in which he discussed the importance of making library Web sites more user-friendly for mobile devices (link).

Hurricane Irene

Despite the widespread damage in VT from Hurricane Irene, most libraries escaped significant harm. The one exception was West Hartford Public Library which lost about 60% of its collection. Many librarians, however, faced enormous personal property damage, and the Vermont Department of Libraries (DOL) established a fund into which librarians could donate money to help other librarians recover from personal property damage. Once again, VT librarians come together!

Vermont Library Calendar

The Vermont Library Association produced a Vermont Public Libraries calendar for 2012 – and it features gorgeous photos showcasing unique library spaces in VT. My sister library – The Brownell – is featured! Check it out.

First Wednesdays Series

Once again this year, the Vermont Humanities Council and the Vermont DOL created the First Wednesdays Humanities Lecture Series. Nine libraries around Vermont host a speaker on the 1st Wednesday of the month, and we are incredibly blessed to have such amazing speakers! So far in Essex Junction, I’ve attended a lecture given by UVM Professor Paul Bierman on the interstate highway system in Vermont, a lecture by NYT Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger on U.S. foreign policy under President Obama, and a lecture by UVM Classics Professor Emeritus Philip Ambrose on Greek tragedies. It’s a free way to increase your geek cred. Learn more about upcoming First Wednesdays here.

David Sedaris

And how can a retrospective be complete without least one author event. My favorite of this past year: David Sedaris speaking at the Flynn. His mischievous humor set the sold-out crowd giggling with glee as he shared both published and unpublished essays. As he read, he made marks on his pages to register when we laughed and how hard – for, as he told us, he continually modifies each piece based on the responses he receives when reading. How geekilicious is that?!

Here’s to another year full of library geekiness!